Merryman Becomes Buckeye Local A.D.
By SETH STASKEY
For the News-Register
CONNORVILLE — As it pertains to prep sports, Jason Merryman has definitely been around.
From his pee wee wrestling days in Shadyside through 27 years of coaching that includes at least one season in every sport except volleyball and swimming, Merryman’s sports roots are firmly planted.
Add that kind of experience up with the last three years of getting more involved with athletic administration side of prep sports and Merryman feels more than prepared for his next challenge.
During the board of education meeting earlier this month, Buckeye Local formally approved Merryman to take over as the Panthers’ new director of athletics, replacing Sam Jones, who stepped down after a decade in the position.
“I am really excited about the opportunity and grateful to (Superintendent) Mrs. (Kim) Leonard, (Principal) Mr. (Luke) Parsons and the entire board of education for giving me this opportunity. I am ready to get started,” Merryman said. “I appreciate them having the confidence in me to do this job.”
The transition from Jones to Merryman should be seamless. Merryman has been shadowing under Jones for the last couple of seasons with this position swap in mind. Plus, Jones, who is going back into the classroom as a math teacher, will continue as an assistant athletics director.
“Sam’s been and will continue to be a tremendous help,” Merryman said. “I know I have big shoes to fill. He’s honestly one of the best athletic directors in the area. He’s done a great job and really left (Buckeye Local) in a good spot as far as athletics go.”
Though the Panthers’ athletic department is on solid footing, Merryman takes over in a bizarre time in sports. Questions about whether or not fall sports will take place, when they may begin, will they finish, etc. are greeting athletic administrators around the state and country.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting,” Merryman said. “If we can get the season started, I feel prepared and comfortable in the job. There are some things I plan to put my own stamp on.”
On top of the issues involving COVID-19 and the pandemic, Buckeye Local athletics are thirsty for a winning product in many sports. Merryman believes the Panthers are close to turning the corner.
“I can see it in the eyes of the kids how badly they want to be successful,” Merryman said. “Our kids and coaches are all putting in the work to be successful.”
For the first time since the league started, Buckeye Local is no longer members of the Buckeye 8 Athletic League, which Merryman said “is big” for the Panthers.
Merryman, who owns a bachelor’s degree in education from West Liberty and Master’s in Educational Leadership from Salem, has been a member of the faculty at Buckeye Local for 16 years. He spent one season as a member of the football staff, working under Phil Pest.
A 1991 graduate of Shadyside High School, Merryman gained coaching experience at Union Local for four years under Jake Olsavsky; nine years at his alma mater under Ty Fleming and four years at John Marshall under Rick Goodrich.
On top of that, he spent one season as the head football coach at St. John Central.
Quite simply, after 27 years, Merryman wanted to try something different while still being around sports.
“I just wanted a change,” Merryman said. “I’m excited to take on this new challenge and role.”
Merryman is the father of two adult children, Dylan (27) and Shayla (23).