WEST PORTSMOUTH — She only stayed for three seasons, but Megan Artrip enjoyed her coaching tenure on the West side of Portsmouth —and oversaw the Lady Senators starting to regularly win basketball games.
But Artrip is stepping down at West, and away from coaching for the time being at least, as she recently informed her team and the Washington-Nile Local School District administration of her decision.
Under Artrip, the Lady Senators went 43-26 —steadily improving in each of the three seasons, from 10-13 two years ago (2019-20) to 15-7 last year (2020-21) and to 18-6 with a Division III sectional championship this past campaign.
West’s sectional title, in fact, was its first since 2013 —while its Southern Ohio Conference Division II runner-up finish for 2021 was its first in several years.
Still, while West was trending upward, Artrip is stepping down —to take on much more of her motherhood role.
While she said “I do plan on coaching again sometime in the future”, her vantage point will shift to the bleachers from the bench.
“I have a few reasons, but the main reason centers around watching my own children playing junior high basketball next year,” said Artrip, in an interview via social media. “Their games are played on the same nights as the varsity games. My family has sacrificed many days and nights and it’s time for me to reciprocate.”
Soon enough, her children will be in high school —as Artrip herself is a 2002 Green graduate, and was an educator in the Valley Local School District for a dozen years before moving on to West.
When she took on the girls basketball coaching job, the Lady Senators’ struggles were evident —coming off seasons of 5-18 (2016-17), 6-16 (2017-18) and 3-19 (2018-19).
But combined with good young talent in her three years — and her Lady Senators’ desire to improve as a program — Artrip, her players and her coaching staff started to win games on the court, and enjoyed their time off it.
She said program building —and culture changing —is more than just Xs and Os, or winning and losing.
“I really enjoyed coaching at West. There is a lot of work involved in being a varsity coach. Building a program takes a lot of time and energy. For me, it wasn’t just about showing up to practices and games. I wanted to be able to compete with the best teams, year in and year out,” said Artrip. “My first year, I took over the biddy ball program. My high school girls ran a weekly practice, on top of their practices and games, and coached games on Saturdays. The little girls had role models to look up to and the high school girls learned that they had to be positive role models. Fundamentals and teamwork were the focus, so it was a win-win for all female athletes involved. We also did many community service projects. This past Thanksgiving, our team fed over 100 families for Thanksgiving. I always felt that it was important to teach my girls life lessons, which is why high school sports are so important. What better life lesson to teach kids than to give. We had a lot of fun for the last three years. In June, we always worked extremely hard (with summer basketball activities), so I tried to have something fun planned at the end of June. We went to a Cincinnati Reds game, Kings Island (amusement park), went swimming, went to an Ohio State women’s basketball game, and we ate a lot of good food.”
Indeed, the Lady Senators had a hunger to be better.
Two years ago, only powerhouse Wheelersburg was ahead of West in the SOC II —with the Lady Senators seriously challenging the Lady Pirates in all three matchups, which included the Division III sectional championship bout.
This past season, West’s only losses were twice to Wheelersburg (SOC II champion and Division III district champion), twice to South Webster (SOC II runner-up and Division IV district runner-up), once to Fairland (Ohio Valley Conference champion and Division III regional runner-up) and once to Eastern Brown (Southern Hills Athletic Conference champion and Division III district runner-up).
In fact, West is the only SOC II club in the past two seasons to twice come within five points (50-46 on Dec. 3, 2020 and 51-46 on Dec. 9, 2021) of knocking off the Lady Pirates.
But Artrip’s three-year tenure was undoubtedly highlighted — and climaxed — by the sectional championship.
“Even though I only stayed for three years, I believe that the culture and expectations were changed for the better. I’m very pleased with what we’ve accomplished in the last three years,” she said. “It shows how hard the girls worked and hopefully gives them something to continue to work towards. I will miss my girls, and I hope that I made an impact on them just like they did on me. I can only hope that the next coach improves on what I did.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved