The Galion boys basketball team’s game against Bellevue on Saturday is like any other contest but with a twist.
The group will play against its former head coach Ed Rich, who took over the same job at his alma matter last April. He worked at the Galion School District for 12 years, which included working as an assistant principal at Galion Middle School and as head varsity boys basketball coach for the last four seasons. Rich also coached seventh grade boys basketball, the freshmen boys team and the Tigers junior varsity boys team.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” said Colby Bright, the current Galion boys head basketball coach. He served under Rich as a junior varsity coach for two years before taking over the head coaching job at Crestline last season.
“I think it’s going to be fun for everyone,” Bright said. “Fun for me, fun for the kids. None of us want to lose.”
Rich left Galion with a 41-49 overall record, and 30-24 record in the North Central and Mid-Ohio Athletic conferences combined. He directed the team to its first postseason win since 2010 last year.
“It’s going to be an emotional game for me,” Rich said in a phone interview. “It’s going to be a battle.”
He always had aspirations to return to coach at the high school, where he played high school basketball before graduating in 1998.
“I always wanted to go home and coach the Redmen,” he said.
About three years ago, Rich’s wife was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer for adults. Life changed for his family, as his mother would commute from Bellevue to take care of the kids.
He initially took on a job as an online learning instructor at the high school, but his predecessor, Brad Schieber, resigned in March. His wife became cancer free as of last spring after undergoing a couple surgeries.
As of press time, the Redmen had a 5-7 record overall before playing against Willard on Friday. The Tigers have an 8-5 overall record, and played Buckeye Valley on the same day.
Rich said his current team has played as he expected. The team has two seniors with one having varsity experience. They also lost another teammate due to injury but that was anticipated.
“On paper, Galion’s got the better team,” he said.
And the Tigers are looking forward to the game.
“We all have a lot of respect for Coach Rich,” said Galion senior Gavin Ratcliff. “It’s going to be weird to stand on the opposite side of him.”
The Tigers’ senior point guard Houston Blair said it’s like any other game, and that the team wants to come out confident.
“Of course we want to win because it’s against Coach Rich,” he said.
His teammate Colton Moore agreed.
“A lot of emotion in that game,” he said.
While Rich and Bright both like to push the ball, the two also have different coaching styles, the three said.
Rich liked to do more set plays, while Bright “let’s us play more,” Blair said, adding that he prefers the latter. “There’s a time and place for sets.”
Ratcliff said he could tell the difference during practices.
“Coach Bright brings more energy,” he said. “Coach Rich was kind of more quiet; soft spoken.”
And Moore said Bright places more emphasis on defense.
“We’re more fast pace this year than we have been in the past,” he said.
The transition between the two coaches was overall smooth for the team, since Bright had coach the team in their junior varsity years.
“These guys are all used to me,” he said.