O’Hern will be next Humboldt AD

Ex-Eagle Grove, ICCC standout will replace retiring Thomas on July 1

Submitted photo by Dan Hockett: Ryan O'Hern coaches the West Burlington boys basketball team this past season. O’Hern, a former Eagle Grove all-stater and Iowa Central basketball player, will be the new activities director at Humboldt.

HUMBOLDT — Ryan O’Hern is ready to move back to the area.

The former Eagle Grove all-state basketball player will be joining the administrative ranks again, as O’Hern was recently named the next grade 7-12 activities director at Humboldt. The HCSD school board formally approved the hire last week.

O’Hern will replace long-time Humboldt coach and administrator Greg Thomas — who is retiring — on July 1.

“The opportunity to get back to north-central Iowa and NCC was a huge draw for us,” O’Hern said. “My parents (Dan and Diane) are retired educators in Eagle Grove. After nine total years in Burlington, it’s bittersweet because we’ve had good basketball teams at West Burlington, I teach with an excellent elementary staff, and we made lifelong friends down here.

“Humboldt is a destination job for me, though. Strong tradition, and you would be hard-pressed to find a community more supportive of its kids. I want to work extremely hard for Mr. (Jim) Murray (Humboldt superintendent), the Humboldt school board, coaches, directors, student-athletes, parents, and community members. I know our four boys will be prideful to wear the Humboldt uniform someday, and our family will be actively involved in the community. Humboldt has the facilities and resources to continue competing for NCC championships and state tournament appearances on a yearly basis.”

The 38-year-old O’Hern is no stranger to the North Central Conference. He was a standout athlete at Eagle Grove High School, where he graduated in 2003. O’Hern went on to play college basketball at Iowa Central Community College and Iowa Wesleyan College, before coming back to north-central Iowa serve as an Eagle Grove High School physical education teacher and ICCC assistant basketball coach from 2008-11.

O’Hern then moved to Burlington, where he became a teacher and activities director at Burlington Notre Dame High School. After a three-year stint as an assistant men’s basketball coach under former Fort Dodge Dodger Terry Carroll at Southeastern Community College, O’Hern took over as the activities director at Iowa City Regina in 2015.

Under O’Hern’s direction at Regina, 18 different Regal teams qualified for state and five won championships. O’Hern hired eight coaches during his tenure.

O’Hern returned to coaching and teaching in the Burlington communnity in 2018-19 as an elementary physical education teacher and head boys basketball coach at West Burlington High School. O’Hern turned the Falcons into a Class 2A contender, accumulating a 75-40 record in five seasons at the helm. West Burlington reached the substate final round three times.

“I have loved all aspects of being the head coach of a high school basketball program and being a positive role model to our team. It will always be in my blood,” said O’Hern, who has a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from Emporia State University. “I’m excited to be back in the role as AD, and looking forward to providing coaches and directors with all the resources needed to be successful and providing students with opportunities for growth and development that only participating in activities can provide.”

O’Hern admitted, “I have huge shoes to fill with Greg retiring.”

“He had an illustrious career as head football coach and AD at Humboldt,” O’Hern said. “His willingness to guide me through the AD transition and to provide support will be invaluable this summer, throughout next school year, and the years to come.”

O’Hern feels like he carries the lessons from each stop with him in both his professional and personal life today.

“The circle of people who have influenced me has been such a factor in my development as a coach and administrator,” O’Hern said. “Between playing and coaching, I was able to spend five years with (Hall of Fame) Coach (Dennis) Pilcher (at Iowa Central), and see how he operated as a junior college head coach and AD at Iowa Central, while helping (current Triton head coach) Chad Helle and I develop as young assistant coaches.

“Former Eagle Grove boys basketball coach Alan Magnani gave me responsibilities as a student assistant coach at Iowa Wesleyan after being his starting point guard for two years. As a 26-year-old AD at Burlington Notre Dame, my principal was former Burlington AD and head football coach Ron Glasgow. He challenged me to work ahead on scheduling and put the same time and effort into the AD job at ND as the (Class) 4A Mississippi Athletic Conference ADs did. My mentor and instructor through the St. Ambrose Master of Education Administration program was Rebecca Furlong, a former Iowa City assistant superintendent.”

O’Hern also gained a great deal of respect and knowledge from Carroll, who coached the Dodgers from 1981-84.

“Terry Carroll was the head basketball coach and AD at Southeastern, so I was able to learn from his perspective on athletic administration and coaching as well. He was the associate head coach on Larry Eustachy’s 2000 Iowa State team that played in the Elite 8. Lorenzo Watkins, the current SCC head coach, is one of the best teachers of the game I’ve been around. He was an assistant for current Texas A&M head coach Buzz Williams at New Orleans.

“Coaches are teachers and servant leaders with a whistle.”

O’Hern will preach communication, trust and a shared vision once he takes the lead role at Humboldt.

“Quality relationships are the foundation of successful leadership,” O’Hern said. “Meeting with administrators, coaches and directors, and all stakeholders in the community to build positive relationships and identify strengths or any concerns within the activities department will be my top priority.

“The opportunity to help oversee the transition to the new multi-purpose facility is also exciting. It will be a significant boost to the individual sports programs, multi-sport student-athletes, and the strength and conditioning program.”

O’Hern and his wife, Ashley, have four boys: Nolan, age 8; Evan, 6; and twins Mason and Hogan, 2.


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