Coach Ryan Hughes led the Sto-Rox boys basketball team to the WPIAL playoffs in February.
By Jamie Wiggan
First hired by the district more than 20 years ago, Sto-Rox Head Basketball Coach Ryan Hughes was let go as the athletics program shifts direction under new leadership.
Hughes said he was notified he would have to reapply after the school board voted to reopen all current coaching positions during its June 25 board meeting. He was asked to interview but was later told he had not been selected.
“I’m not 100% sure what happened,” Hughes said. “I guess I wasn’t in the in crowd.”
The board voted to post the positions immediately after hiring Head Football Coach LaRoi Johnson as the district’s new athletic director. President Samantha Levitzki-Wright said the move was made to let Johnson steer the program in a new direction.
Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment on the decision not to retain Hughes.
A Sto-Rox graduate, Hughes first began coaching at the district in 1999. Since then he has worked in various coaching positions at Sto-Rox and other districts before being brought on as head coach four years ago.
Hughes said he was initially upset by the decision but has since made peace after receiving an “outpouring of support” from students and the wider community.
“I know the work we’ve put in,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the kids who came through my program in the past four years.”
This year, Hughes led the Vikings through a 20-7 winning season, losing to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the WPIAL Class 2A final. Reaching the state playoff quarterfinals before the tournament was canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Hughes maintains his team was contending for the championship.
“I honestly believe if it hadn’t been for COVID we’d have been PIAA champions,” he said.
The school board, which has final authority over hiring and firing, has not yet approved appointments for any of the newly reopened positions.