POWHATAN – After leading Benedictine Basketball to a winning 25-7 season in 2013-14, Ryan Marable got to take a step back from the high school level and observe the coaching methods that were in motion around him.
“When you have your own team, you don’t always have an opportunity to just sit back and watch other coaches and watch other teams play,” he said. “I’m excited to really implement some new things, and I think I’m a better coach because of it.”
He’s taking what he learned to Powhatan High School as the new head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball team.
“Powhatan in general I think is a great school system,” Marable said; when he interviewed with Powhatan High School principal Dr. Mike Massa and athletic director Tim Llewellyn, he “just saw that they cared about sports, they cared about their school.”
He’s also familiar with his fellow coaches from different places and times. Marable played football at Blessed Sacrament Huguenot back when it was still Huguenot Academy under current Powhatan Football head coach Mike Henderson, knows Powhatan Girls Basketball head coach and Mike Henderson’s wife Kristy Henderson and went to Longwood University with Powhatan Wrestling head coach Jonathan Tanaka.
“I know what type of people are there [at Powhatan]: they care about kids, they’re hard-working and they’re going to demand the right things out of kids,” Marable said, adding that he’s joining a PHS athletic department “where I have the trust of the other coaches and they have the trust of me to work together for the kids.”
Marable grew up in Chesterfield and played basketball all through middle school and into high school. In 10th grade, he transferred to Huguenot Academy and played there when it merged with Belmead to become Blessed Sacrament Huguenot. After graduating in 2000, Marable took his basketball career to the collegiate level at Longwood University and then, following his graduation from college in 2004, decided to go the teaching and coaching route. He started at Caroline Middle School before moving over to his native Chesterfield County, where he’s been working ever since.
His coaching career has seen him assist with the Cosby and L.C. Bird basketball teams for one year each, as well as with Benedictine’s team for two years. He had a successful year in the role of head coach with the Cadets for a year, but then, having two daughters, decided to go back to the middle school school.
He started his own company called Local Legends, through which he’s done basketball camps for kids during the summer. Marable orchestrates and runs the camps and the teams; the players, whom he used to coach, and who played at the college and pro levels – Benedictine and University of Maryland alum, Powhatan resident and G League player L.G. Gill among them – come in to work with the campers as a means of giving back to the kids – as well as giving them role models to look up to and look forward to during the summer.
From his coaching experiences, Marable observed that the successful teams of which he was a part had student-athletes who played for each other, defended really well and were able to compete at a high level.
“The best teams that we had, they’re just a bunch of gym rats who like to be in the gym, like to be working on their games, weren’t afraid to be told what they needed to work on to be better and then were able to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Marable said, “and just getting after it really and being ultimate teammates and competitors.”
Per Marable’s coaching philosophy, basketball is a simple game.
“We as coaches and as players complicate it,” he said, “but if you can really maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses throughout the year, you have a chance to win.
“I watch a lot of games that, the same mistakes that my middle school teams make, I see the NBA players make,” Marable said, “so if you can minimize those mistakes and then just get a pure joy out of competing and being able to really care about the little things, those things translate, and doing the little things – doing the hard things that other teams don’t want to do that might not be flashy – that’s what really translates.”
Marable had the chance to meet with his basketball players on May 2, and former longtime Powhatan head coach Steve Washburn, he added, was great about getting him film and telling him about his returners.
“I think there’s a lot of potential there – I loved how hard they played,” Marable said. “Powhatan County is a county where football, basketball, baseball, you can always rely on the kids to compete…I’m looking forward to that: the ability to compete. I don’t have to get them to play hard. They already know how to play hard.”
Marable’s offseason regiment will feature summer workouts, and he’s looking to have the JV and varsity teams go to a team camp at the University of Richmond. He’s also going to try to get some of his players to play for Coach Mike Henderson’s Powhatan Football team in the fall.
“I think it’s important for a one-high-school town, for kids, especially athletes, to play multiple sports,” Marable said. “I’m going to encourage those kids to get on the football field and help Powhatan win some games and I know they can learn a lot; I know as a college basketball player, I learned a lot…about myself and about mental and physical toughness from Coach Henderson, so I want our guys out there on Friday Nights putting on the Powhatan jersey and then not worrying so much about basketball until basketball season, except for their own individual development.”
Marable would like his players to come out to the Local Legends camps if they can because he believes that, whether the varsity players are working for him or just at the camps observing, or if the JV players are participating: “They’ll learn a lot about what I’m about and my philosophies and learn it from not only me, but my former players as well.”
If he has enough players who aren’t playing football, he will look at the possibility of competing in a Fall League – if there’s one available – prior to the upcoming 2019-20 VHSL winter basketball season.
He’s also looking forward to playing in the Midlothian- and Chesterfield-heavy Dominion District.
“I grew up watching the Dominion District, I grew up playing in the Dominion District, I’ve coached in the Dominion District,” Marable said. “For me to get a chance to compete against some of those schools that I know the kids at and I know the athletic departments and the coaches…it’s good quality basketball a lot of the places, and being able to compete against some of those guys is going to be fun, and doing it for Powhatan is going to be good, too, because it’s a brand new experience for those guys and the school. I think with my knowledge…about the district, it can only help us.”
In Marable’s words, the upcoming prep basketball season will “be here before you know it,” and he’s excited about the opportunity.
“It’s going to be fun to test myself and for these kids to test themselves against some of the best kids in the area,” Marable said. “I’m excited about being in Powhatan; I know that, going to Huguenot, I know the pride that people have at Powhatan High School and at Powhatan as a county in general, and I’m looking forward to representing the people of Powhatan and putting a good product on the floor.”