GLEN ROSE – The search did not take long, but Glen Rose ISD has tabbed Ramsey Ghazal as the next head coach of the Lady Tiger basketball team. The announcement was made by GRISD Superintendent G. Wayne Rotan shortly after 10 a.m. Monday and will still need to be made official by the GRISD Board of Trustees.

“Coach Ghazal is an outstanding basketball coach and he brings a great passion for the game and for his players,” Rotan said. “Not only is he an excellent coach, but also an excellent teacher. Coach Ghazal was selected from a great pool of candidates for his energy and passion, as well as his proven track record of success. We are very excited to have Coach Ghazal and his family in Glen Rose.”

Ghazal echoed Rotan’s excitement on April 12 when he made his first official visit as the Lady Tiger head coach. For the Midwestern State graduate and 18-year coaching veteran, the opportunity is about more than being a coach. It is an opportunity to for his family to be a stronger, tighter-knit unit.

“[Receiving the initial phone call] was very exciting,” Ghazal said. “Right now I am in a situation where I work at a 5A, but our kids go to a school about the size of Glen Rose in Iowa Park and my wife teaches there. So we aren’t together much. I don’t get to see my kids at school and if there is something going on at their school I don’t ever get to see that, either. With Glen Rose it gives us a great opportunity to be part of a community and it is very exciting to know that this [arena] will be packed for the pep-rallies and to know that my wife, kids and I will all be here. “

“Glen Rose is somewhere that I want our kids to grow up, graduate from and be able to call home,” Ghazal continued. “But at the same time it is very hard to leave the community of Wichita Falls that I have been in and a part of for the majority of my life. […] But we wouldn’t have left it unless we felt like it was a special situation and we feel like this is.”

Ghazal is no stranger to turning around a program that has missed the postseason. Six years ago he took over the reins of a Wichita Falls High School Lady Rider basketball program that had not made the UIL playoffs in 22 years. The Lady Riders have since made a playoff appearance in each of the last six seasons, four times won the district championship, twice made trips to the regional tournament, were ranked in the top-10 of state and national polls last season and have posted a new school high in wins in each of the last three seasons.

“I think you have to get somewhere and assess their strengths and their weaknesses and draw from them both,” said Ghazal on how he turned around the program. “You have to continue pulling from those strengths, but you need to be able to pull the weaknesses up too. There is always the possibility that there have been some girls who need to be playing and maybe haven’t been. […] We have to get the girls to really believe and understand that what they are doing is bigger than the school or community they are playing for.”

“You might be great at volleyball and that is your passion, but if you can make the basketball team better then those are sacrifices that we want the kids here to make in order to make girls basketball better,” Ghazal continued. “The same goes if you are the best basketball player, but can really help the track team even though you don’t really like to run track.”

“We want the kids to want to make our school and girls program better,” Ghazal added. “[…] These facilities and dedication the community has towards their students in their athletics and academics are there. We know the kids work hard and I have heard about how hard they work, but it is really about working with each kid and trying to get the best out of them. We really want them to excel.”

In total, Ghazal guided the Lady Raiders to a 173-30 record under his tutelage, which was capped a 36-2 record last season and a loss to eventual 5A State Champion Canyon in the regional finals.

He was also named the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 5A Coach of the Year in 2015 after winning a then-school record 31 games.

“I definitely think that transition offense is the easiest way to score, so we will definitely want to push the ball and be able to run a fast-break offense,” Ghazal said of his style of play. “Sometimes you just have to go with what the strength of your team is and until I see them live it is hard to know what those strengths and weaknesses are. I think we led the area in offense last year at Wichita Falls, but that was a strength of our team. To me, I think you want to be able to play at different tempos, because there isn’t a team where one pace is always going to work. You have to be adaptable, but without a doubt we are going to want to get up and down the court and we want the kids to have fun. We are going to teach them basketball more than anything.”

Ghazal, a certified English and speech teacher, and his wife, Stephanie, a school diagnostician, have three children ages 10, six and one.

“We brought them last weekend and they loved it,” Ghazal said.

Sheree Hill’s retirement also meant GRISD needed fill her role as the girls’ athletic coordinator. Rotan also announced Monday that Sandy Langford has been selected to do just that.

“Coach Langford has done an outstanding job as the Glen Rose Lady Tiger Volleyball and Track coach,” Rotan said. “She and Coach Ghazal will be a great team in helping the Lady Tiger athletic program grow and succeed.”

Ghazal will serve out the remainder of his contract in Wichita Falls that runs through the end of the school year, but will make frequent trips to Glen Rose to become better acquainted with the Lady Tigers and community, he added.