In just 15 words Tuesday night, Warren superintendent Dr. Philip Sobocinski accurately summed up the hiring of Ryan Webber as the Blue Devils’ varsity boys basketball coach:
“You have big shoes to fill, but I’m sure you’ll be up to the challenge.”
Webber was officially hired by the School Board at its regularly scheduled meeting to replace longtime coach Chuck Ramsey. Ramsey was asked to call it a career by the administration after 34 years, including the last 19 as varsity head coach during which time he put Warren basketball on the state radar screen.
It’s now up to the 32-year-old Webber to keep the Blue Devils there.
Based on his body of work — three solid seasons at sByron followed by four very good years at Moline — he’s the right man for the huge job.
“He’s had success at every level of high school basketball he’s coached,” said Warren athletic director Mark Pos. “He knows what it’s all about, and he knows what it means to be a Blue Devil.”
Webber attended the board meeting with his wife Megan, and he will be in Gurnee on Wednesday to meet with his new co-workers, plus administrators and, of course, the basketball players and their families.
“I’m excited to be here not only to be an educator, but as the head basketball coach,” Webber said. “We were attracted to the standard of excellence at Warren, both academically and athletically.”
Webber won 67 percent of the games he coached at Moline (by comparison, Warren won 71 percent of the time under Ramsey), and a quality coach like him never would have become available except for a fluky set of circumstances.
Due to financial woes in the school district, Webber was a victim of a RIF — reduction in force — not once, but twice, at Moline, including this spring. He was called back to work after the first RIF, but ...
With no guarantee that he’d have a teaching job next fall, he became a candidate for the Warren post.
“He’s been a successful coach for us, and we hate to lose him. But ... he’s got a family and we don’t know yet how many teachers we’re going to be able to hire back yet. It’s hard to coach without a teaching job,” said Moline athletic director Todd Rosenthal.
Webber will be taking over a Warren program that is graduating all five starters from a 26-4 team.
As for coaching style, Warren clearly went with what they know works. Just like Ramsey, Ryan Webber’s teams are noted for all-out defensive pressure, intensity, spirit, hustle and tenacity.
That style worked perfectly for the last 19 years. There’s no reason it can’t work for 19 more.
The Moline Distpatch/Rock Island Argus contributed to this report