Wheeling’s Koehler Lands Head Coach Job
WHEELING – It looks like Wheeling Central has produced yet another basketball coach. What else is new?
This time, it is a little bit different.
Unlike guys like Skip Prosser, Dino Gaudio, Doug and Dave Wojick, and Ricky Yahn, Cameron Koehler’s name might not carry much weight with it.
After all, he’s only 25 years old. Still, he was hired as the new boys’ basketball coach at North Myrtle Beach High School on Wednesday.
Despite his age, Koehler, who graduated from Central in 2007, still says the job has been a long time coming.
”I’ve been jumping around a lot, testing the waters,” he said. ”They have a good administration and a good athletic department. It’s just a good fit.”
Koehler originally applied for the assistant coaching job at North Myrtle Beach after he graduated from West Virginia University with a masters in Social Studies Education in 2012.
The problem was, there wasn’t a teaching position open at the high school at the time.
The bump in the road didn’t stop Koehler’s coaching dreams. He found a job in Ft. Pierce, Fla., as the head junior varsity coach at Lincoln Park Academy, where he stayed for a year.
Then while searching on the Internet one day, Koehler discovered an open teaching position at North Myrtle Beach.
”I saw there was an open position and I just got in contact with them,” he said.
Koehler, a geography teacher at the school, spent his first year as an assistant for Frank Moorhead’s Chiefs.
Moorhead retired shortly after the season ended and Koehler applied for the open position.
”I’m just shocked about how fast the transition was,” Koehler said about becoming the head coach. ”I started coaching in college and I coached through grad school.
”I feel pretty confident with how I’ve developed as a coach.”
He’s certainly had some help along the way.
To start, the coaching gene seems to be in his bloodstream as his father, grandfather and uncle have all been, or currently are, high school basketball coaches. His father, Dave, who started his coaching career as an assistant under Dave Wojick, is currently an assistant for Michael Jebbia at Wheeling Park, while his uncle, Chip Calissie, just won a state title as an assistant for Mel Stephens’ Maroon Knights.
”I’ve been in the gym since I can remember,” Koehler said. ”I started playing (basketball) in second or third grade. I had both of them (dad and uncle) as coaches. As a young kid, I was going to the high school and doing summer workouts with the high school team.”
Following his time at Wheeling Central, where he won a state title in 2005 and was runner-up in 2006, Koehler became an assistant coach at Fairmont Senior under Dave Retton, the son of legendary Fairmont State coach, Joe Retton.
”They really taught me a lot, really groomed me for coaching,” Koehler said. ”Mel taught me a lot about the game. Retton taught me about the extra curricular stuff that comes along with coaching like dealing with parents, getting involved in the community and those sort of things.”
”Then, when I got to Florida, it was a totally different environment. Going from West Virginia to Florida, you see the game of basketball in a totally different light. North Carolina is kind of a mixture of the two. The athletes are like the ones in Florida, but there’s a community base like you would find in West Virginia.
”I’ve seen both sides of things and I know how to develop a program.”
Good thing, too. North Myrtle Beach has had a pretty solid basketball program. Last season the team went 21-6 before falling in the second round of the playoffs.
”Historically, they’re one of the more consistent teams in the county,” Koehler said. ”Year to year they’ve always been good, always been right in the middle of it and never out of it.
”I know what it takes and I know what to expect. If I just came out of nowhere, I’d feel a lot more pressure. The community, the school and the kids know me and they’ve seen the work I’ve put into this. I feel like everyone has bought into it.”
Speaking of the kids, they are just that. Kids. That’s one thing, to some people, that Koehler could still be described as.
”It could be both a blessing and a curse,” Koehler said about the closeness of age between himself and his players. ”They could look at you different. They may talk to you differently, respond to you differently, but you just have to find that middle ground. They have to know you’re the coach. That’s one of more difficult things.
”Being at Fairmont, I had a really close relationship with the players because they were really close to my age. We were more buddy-buddy. When I got to Florida, they saw as me more of a coach. That’s when it really hit me. You can’t approach the situation like you’re going to be friends. You have to understand who you’re dealing with.”
It’s to that end, Koehler says, where his former coaches gave him the best advice.
”They told me to be stern with my decisions,” he said. ”You man up to your standard and be true to your word. You have to try to work together as as staff and become a family. It’s not a one-man show is really what I’ve learned. You have to rely on others. You can’t do it by yourself.”