Bartlett names Ragan new coach
Few teams have been through anything as difficult as the Bartlett girls basketball program this past year, something new coach Kristi Ragan knows she is stepping into hoping to lead her players to brighter days ahead.
Last June Bartlett coach Brad Hunt unexpectedly passed away. Joe Eirich took over and coached most of this season before stepping down in February.
Ragan, Bartlett's first-year varsity assistant coach this year, took over for regionals with an interim title.
Last week she learned the interim label is off and she is the next Bartlett coach, taking over a talented squad at a school with a rich girls basketball tradition.
"They have had more (difficult) experiences in the past year than a lot of kids get in a lifetime but I think that's going to help us this next season," Ragan said. "I'm excited to continue keeping the culture going and creating a safe environment because these young women are really strong and we're going to do some cool things."
Bartlett finished 29-5 two years ago and reached a Class 4A sectional final.
Last year's team went 24-9, bowing out of the postseason with a 67-59 loss to Lake Park in a regional final in just the second game with Ragan moving from assistant to head coach.
"I have been motivated by them in how they have handled the situation," Ragan said of her players. "I can't imagine what they've been going through. They have had really supportive parents and people in the school have been extremely supportive. But them internally handling it and how they have come together as a team has been amazing. Losing coach Hunt and then Joe taking over and doing the work he did moving the program forward and now in what they are looking forward to, we have a little bit of closure and excitement for these kids because they can show how they have been through so much and grown in that way."
Growing up in Lander, Wyoming with parents who both taught and coached, Ragan had a twin sister and two older brothers who were all into sports. Ragan played college basketball at Monmouth College where she also was a student assistant volleyball coach.
After graduating Ragan spent three years teaching and coaching in Denver before coming to Bartlett last year.
"I've really been into sports my whole life," Ragan said. "I knew I always wanted to be a coach and a teacher. I've been across the country but I've had a lot of great experiences and I'm ready for this next step."
The next step should be plenty of fun as the Hawks will return two players, senior Lexie Sinclair and junior McKenzie Hare, who both already have scored 1,000 points, plus another key senior in Dani Hedeen.
Ragan said she's been in contact with the players this week now that she's officially been named head coach, giving them information about what they can do when they can't be together, what workouts they can do.
"We've got a lot of experience and are ready to make a huge run," Ragan said. "I'm really, really excited. The coolest part for me is the potential the program has. Obviously there's a lot of tradition in the program, it's seen a lot of success. All the great stuff coach (Denise) Sarna did and it's been in a lot of different hands since then. Everyone progressively moving the program forward and I'm excited to see what I can do. The girls are the main part of that because they are such great kids and work so hard and they are excited to get back in the gym and ready to go for next season."