RIPLEY - Last week, the Jackson County Board of Education named Jason Ward as the head coach of the Ripley High School volleyball program.
Corby Stalnaker, who has guided the program for a decade retired this spring. Stalnaker's most stellar season was a Class AAA state runner-up finish in 2008.
Ward comes to the position with head coaching experience as the skipper of the Viking track and field team for three seasons and three seasons served as a coach at Wirt County High School. Ward, 33, teaches World History and Advanced Placement Government at RHS. The avid runner who is training for the Parkersburg half marathon in August was named Teacher of the Year at Ripley High earlier this year.
"I appreciate the opportunity to work with these girls. We have talented student athletes who are hungry to do what it takes to be a winner on and off the court. We have had 20-25 girls out for summer workouts and their excitement and enthusiasm is inspiring to me," said Ward.
Ward will be assisted by Allison Gratton who was a stand-out prep player in Michigan. She teaches English at Ripley High.
Volunteering will be Becky Neal who served as a player at Wirt County High and played collegiately at Glenville State. She has previously coached at Braxton County High for one season and spent two seasons at Nicholas County, both as an assistant coach. Neal is employed by Jackson County Schools as a Special Education teacher at Ripley High.
"I am very grateful to have two quality people around me to help develop our athletes. We are all very excited about this program," added Ward.
The Lady Vikings finished (9-33-5) last season. Junior-to-be Kaitlyn Weaver returns as a Class AAA Special Honorable Mention All State selection form a year ago.