Marsh to take over Oakwood girls' basketball program

Marsh to take over Oakwood girls' basketball program

FITHIAN — When Jeff Ford decided he'd step down as the Oakwood girls' basketball coach once his squad's 2017-18 season was complete, there were two ways the school could've gone about looking for his successor.

Would there be a large, wide-open recruitment to find a replacement for the coach who helped his club to consecutive Vermilion County tournament titles? Or would the Comets keep it simple and stay in-house?

That answer arrived in the form of Stephanie Marsh, who has been promoted from Comets assistant to the team's leader. The Oakwood Board of Education confirmed Marsh's appointment this past Wednesday.

"I'm very excited," Marsh said. "They were interested in me because I've been around the program. They obviously felt like I was the strongest candidate."

Marsh (nee Denius) graduated from Oakwood and was The News-Gazette's female Athlete of the Year in 2008. She went on to play college hoops at Parkland and Olivet Nazarene before serving in various coaching roles at her alma mater.

Marsh has been a volunteer coach, the junior high leader and a high school assistant before her latest assignment.

"She's put a lot into the program," Oakwood athletic director Austin Wenger said. "She's wanted to be a head coach for a while and was just waiting for an opportunity."

Marsh left the Comets as a player having tallied 1,906 career points. Though she never won any postseason hardware, the Oakwood team directly after her graduation captured a Class 1A regional crown. That was the last plaque the Comets won until the 2016-17 campaign, when they scored a 2A regional championship.

Oakwood has undergone a noticeable turnaround under Ford after he began his reign sporting a 39-77 record. Over the last two seasons, the Comets compiled a cumulative 50-9 ledger to go with the one regional and two county tournament victories.

"We've been very successful, which does add a little bit of a stress factor," Marsh said. "But the fact I've been around the girls and the program, we feel confident we can keep that going."

Rising-junior Katelyn Young, a two-time News-Gazette All-Area first-team choice, will pace a program that loses three seniors in 2018-19. But Marsh feels strongly Oakwood can continue faring as well as it did under Ford's leadership.

"We'll have to try to fill (the seniors') positions, but we're confident in the team we're bringing back," Marsh said. "I told (the returning girls) ... and they were all really happy for me."