Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

August 3, 2012

Hulbert hires Ott as hoops coach

It took all summer, but Hulbert finally found its new girls basketball coach. And Brad Ferguson couldn’t be happier.

“Just to be able to find someone of that quality, at this time of year, we consider ourselves very lucky,” said Ferguson, Hulbert’s athletic director, on the hiring of Rick Ott, the former coach at Sequoyah who was mostly recently at Inola. “(Ott) brings a lot of experience. Five-hunderd-plus wins says enough right there.”

Ott was officially named Hulbert’s coach on Monday night at the school board meeting. He takes over for Alicia Zodrow, who had been the Lady Riders’ coach the past three seasons.

For Ferguson, finding a coach — anyone at all, actually — was arguably his biggest challenge all summer. At one point, he even offered to take the reigns if it meant the girls would have a coach and continue to play.

“It was really no one’s fault,” Ferguson said of the drawn-out hire. “We had a change in superintendents, so we had to weed through the finances. We didn’t know where we stood until late. We even though we might have to drop some programs.

“I was willing to coach the girls, because I didn’t want to see the girls [not be able to play].”

But Ferguson made one last-ditch effort to fill the coaching vacancy.

At the coaches clinic in Tulsa during All-State week, he posted notices everywhere that Hulbert was still in search of a girls basketball coach.

“I posted it about eight times,” Ferguson said.

Luckily for Ferguson, Ott was intrigued.

“I found out about the Hulbert opening at the coaches clinic, so I called and met with Brad,” Ott said. “Then, I was named as the Hulbert coach on Monday.”

Funny how things work out — especially for someone who was contemplating retirement.

“Thought about retiring, but I still had coaching in my blood,” Ott said. “I needed something to satisfy that hunger. Once you’re a coach, it’s hard to walk away.”

Ott, 57, enters his tenure at Hulbert after spending the past 10 seasons at Inola — where he recorded his 500th career coaching victory last season. Prior to his time at Inola, Ott also spent time at Quapaw, Vinita, Claremore-Sequoyah and Foyil.

After all those stops, Ott spent two years at Tahlequah-Sequoyah, where he began to learn about Hulbert a little more.

“I’ve always been familiar with Hulbert after years of coaching at Sequoyah,” said Ott, who will be entering his 32nd year in the coaching. “I’m also very familiar with Hulbert’s opponents like Warner and Gore.”

In addition to coaching basketball, Ott said he’ll also teach algebra.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity and the new challenge,” Ott said. “I love the small-school atmosphere.”

In 2012-2013, Ott will take over a club that returns starters in guards, Allison Arnall and Tiffany Thompson, and post player Lindsay Krueger.

“I haven’t had a chance to look at the roster,” Ott said. “But I’ve heard there are a couple of returning players.”

With three returners possessing plenty of experience, Ott is confident he can churn out the team that he wants.

“I’ve had a good track record of developing talent,” he said. “I’ll just have to work with what I’ve got.”

When asked if there was any consideration to bring Zodrow back while the vacancy remained intact all summer, Ferguson said, “I can’t comment on that. Alicia did a good job, but I just don’t want to comment on it.”

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