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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sports > Awards/Milestones

2019-2020 Girls Basketball Honors --

Coach of the Year: Ryan Jasper, Monticello

Mar 30, 2020

By Joseph Abraham - co-editor

By: RICHARD ROSS | DEMOCRAT
Jasper shares some knowledge with his team during a timeout. Despite missing the postseason, the Monticello Girls Basketball Program showed tremendous improvement going from zero to eight wins.
MONTICELLO -- “If it were easy everyone would do it,” said Monticello Varsity Girls Basketball Coach Ryan Jasper, when asked about his philosophy.
“There's a reason there's one champion each year. The difference between second and last is minimal. The team that works the hardest will be the only one standing at the end.”
While an 8-12 overall record may seem like nothing special to some programs, at Monticello, where there has been little success with girls basketball in recent years, this was a big deal. It represented an eight-win jump, from zero in Jasper's first year coaching the Lady Panthers.

Therefore, in recognition of Jasper's progress in establishing a strong foundation for a consistently competitive girls basketball program at Monticello, he's been selected as the 2019-20 Sullivan County Democrat Girls' Basketball Coach of the Year.
As a casualty of budget cuts at the Eldred Central School District, Jasper was forced to leave his alma mater, where he was a star basketball player, and where he started his coaching career. Beginning at the modified girls level, Jasper eventually became the Lady Yellowjackets' varsity coach, leading them to five Section 9 girls basketball titles. He also coached the school's varsity softball team to several additional Section 9 titles.
So on this new journey and with a couple of different options on the table, Jasper was heavily recruited to Monticello by another newcomer, Athletic Director Kurt Buddenhagen, who had previously spent several years in Liberty.
“It was definitely challenging,” Jasper said of the transition, noting his familiarity with Eldred. “Any time you go to unfamiliar territory there is uncertainty. But going in with Kurt was a big help. Coach [Chris] Russo was one of the people that interviewed me. I have so much respect for him and he's been such a great help. For example, when my wife recently was giving birth, he and his wife made food for us. Since I've been here, he and Kurt have become great friends and I'm so grateful for them.”
Jasper said he treated his first season at Monticello as an assessment.
“I'd take note of things and what needed to change,” he said. “Some kids were set in their ways and when that happens, naturally you're met with some resistance. But for the kids, the consistency was big because there's been so much turnover. Kurt and I continue to talk about things and what we plan on doing going into next year.”
After the challenging first season, where his Lady Panthers were winless, they played in the Liberty girls basketball summer league. This gave his players valuable experience entering this season. Jasper said they should have been 10-10 (instead of 8-12), but let a couple games slip away.
Heading into next season, Jasper has high expectations. They're returning three starters -- Aaliyah Mota, Dezhariya Williams and Shayla Smalls -- and sixth man, Nyasia McNeil.
Jasper wants his team to, “Keep improving. Hopefully we can build on our record and make the playoffs for the first time in a long time.”
Creating a youth/feeder program is also at the top of Jasper and Buddenhagen's to-do list. Jasper explained that it is needed to build a foundation for the program so it lasts.
In addition to his previously mentioned coaching philosophy, Jasper notes that the relationship a coach shares with their players is key to the team's success.
“You have to have a rapport and show them that you care,” he said. “If you earn their respect there's nothing they won't do for you. If you just show up and yell at a kid each day, that only gets you so far. If you take an interest in their life, how mom and dad are, it really goes a long way.”
Jasper is grateful for those who've helped him as he coaches.
“My wife [Eileen] is number one. There's no more difficult task than being a coach's wife, especially when you have kids -- and we have two [Kaeden and Kenley]. Also, the people I work with everyday have been so amazing. Since I walked in the door at Monticello on day one, they couldn't have been more supportive.”
And they are happy to have him.
“Ryan is a great coach,” Buddenhagen said. “He knows how to get the most from his players and his students in the classroom. He builds bonds with his players and students that transcend the game and school. He's a players' coach and the kids are willing to do what he asks. I don't think anyone would have imagined the program making the strides it did in two short years.”

Photos by Richard A. Ross | Democrat

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