In his young coaching career, Ryan Nemetz has been a lot of places.
He played at Kutztown University and as a walk-on/student assistant at Temple. He worked at a sports institute in New York, the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida and served four seasons as an assistant coach at Eastern University.
So eventually, the next step would be to take the reins of his own program, which Nemetz will get the opportunity to do after it was announced Tuesday that he’d be the next Cardinal O’Hara boys basketball coach.
“I’m very passionate about being able to work with the guys in terms of mentoring and coaching and teaching,” Nemetz told the Daily Times. “I think high school really presents that opportunity to work in-depth. The Catholic League, the tradition, it’s one of, if not the best leagues in the area, maybe the country. It’s an honor to have that opportunity.”
Nemetz is new to the Catholic League and the Philadelphia high school scene as a coach, but he’s trawled local gyms as Eastern’s recruiting coordinator, helping the Eagles to back-to-back seasons with records over .500. He also knows many local talents from his work with Team Nelson’s Lead Guard camps based in Chester.
Nemetz is realistic about what it will be like to run a program rather that work under someone else’s wing.
“Just being the leader of the organization is going to be really important, making sure that the guys are getting the right messages in terms of education being first,” Nemetz said. “That’s really important to me. I think it’s going to be a challenge for me personally in that leadership position, and I’m open to always learning. Whether that’s going to colleges in the area or the Sixers or whatever, it’s just being out there and interacting with people to continue to learn. I’m ready for those challenges.”
“From the first minute you meet him, you can sense his excitement, vision and passion for O’Hara basketball,” O’Hara athletic director BJ Hogan said in a school statement. “He has a specific plan that he will bring to the basketball program, which focuses on academic achievement and to the local CYO community. We are very excited to welcome him as our head coach.”
O’Hara improved last season in the second year under Jason Harrigan, going from four wins to 11, including a triumph in the first round of the Catholic League playoffs. Harrigan, who came to O’Hara a year before his former employer Del Val Charter shut its doors, resigned at season’s end. He achieved the improvement by bringing in a number of new players, including Austin Peay signee Antwuan Butler.
Gauging the commitment of a young, talented crop of transfers — including Jordan Hall, Kyle Maska, Elijah Smith and others — is a top priority for Nemetz.
Even from the outside, he grasps the endurance of the Catholic League hierarchy and knows it will take a lot to force O’Hara’s name into the conversation. He’s ready to do the work to achieve those ends.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to build something, to be a program-builder,” he said. “I definitely want to instill that passion into the guys and let them know that it’s going to be a lot of hard work to establish ourselves at the top of the Catholic League. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a process here, and everyone has to be willing to come in and work hard.
“I also want them to have goals for themselves, to want to take the jump from what they accomplished last year, but also off the court understanding that getting into college is very important, and about being good guys in the student body and in the classroom.”