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Eddie Ryan Award

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The Eddie Ryan Award is presented annually to the top boys and girls coach in the Greater Kansas City area.  

Eddie Ryan began his coaching career in 1948 where he served as head coach at Rockhurst College.  After a brief stint at Rockhurst, he later went on to coach Pembroke Country Day School until his tragic death in 1964.

During his tenure at Pembroke, he led the Raiders to four consecutive Missouri state tournaments from 1955-58, capturing the state title in 1956 and 1957.  During his 10

year career at Pembroke, Ryan compiled an overall record of 213-60, winning 19 or more games in all but two seasons.

In 1966, former players of Eddie Ryan established the award in memory of their coach. In addition to his outstanding record, Ryan was noted for his unselfish desire to work with high school age athletes and was respected for the positive influence he exerted on his players.  

It is in the spirit of the Ryan's hard work, success, integrity, sportsmanship and disregard for personal recognition that the award is presented.  The inscription on the "Eddie Ryan" plaque was composed by Ernie Mehl, former sports editor of the Kansas City Star, and reads:

"We who played for him and who still care for him as he cared for us, dedicate this award to Eddie Ryan in the belief that what he taught and what he coached, the morals he instilled, the code he himself respected and asked that it be accepted by others; in his concern for all, his warmth, his sincerity is best remembered and which will, like the sun, beam down through the years, all these constitute a memorial which will live in our hearts"

View previous Eddie Ryan Award winners

2024 Recipients

Boys Coach - Missouri
Michael Gholston Jr. - Central
Michael Gholston Jr, MBB KC Central (Eddie Ryan Award) with Chad Rader, 810Varsity.jpg

Michael Gholston, Jr., just completed his third season at Central High School, leading his team to a 23-8 record and a 4th place finish in the Class 4 tournament. This was their first appearance in the state tournament final four in 25 years for Central High School.

In addition to their success at the state tournament, they captured the Interscholastic League (IL) title with a perfect 10-0 record.

Coach Gholston has received several recognitions for his success including being named the Interscholastic League (IL) Coach of Year twice, the Class 4 District 15 Coach of the Year and being selected to receive the Eddie Ryan Coach of the Year Award this season.

Boys Coach - Kansas
David Birch - Shawnee Mission Northwest

David Birch lead his team to an undefeated season (25-0) en route to winning the Sunflower League Championship and defeating state powerhouse Wichita Heights to capture the KS Class 6A championship while delivering the first boys basketball state title in school history.

In addition to being named the 2024 Kansas Boys Eddie Ryan Award Coach of the Year, he was named the 2024 Sports in Kansas 6A and the Kansas State Class 6A Boys Coach of the Year.

Prior to joining the Cougars, he served as the Head Coach at Piper in 2020 going 22-1 and taking them to the Forever Four before COVID ended the season prematurely. He was the named the 2020 Sports in Kansas 4A Coach of the Year at the conclusion of that season. Birch is 72-20 in his four years at Northwest and 94-21 overall in his career as a head coach

Girls Coach - Missouri
Darren Smith - Chillicothe

Darren Smith just completed his 10th season as the girls basketball coach at Chillicothe and his 20th overall as a head basketball coach. This season he led his team to a 28-2 record, a Midland Empire Conference Championship and a 3rd place finish in Class 4.

Prior to Chillicothe, Smith served as the boys basketball coach at Meadville for 10 years. His overall record in 20 years is 435-124 including a mark of 224-56 in his ten years as the girls basketball coach at Chillicothe.

Smith currently serves as the Athletic Director at Chillicothe in addition to his duties as the girls basketball coach. Coach Smith has received several recognitions this season including being named the MEC Coach of the Year, the Class 4 District 16 Coach of the Year and he will be inducted in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame later this month.

Girls Coach - Kansas
Ryan Robie - De Soto

Ryan Robie just completed his 9th season as the head girls basketball coach at De Soto High School where he started his coaching career. Robie led his team to a 19-4 record this season which tied a school record for wins in a season. Overall, he has a career record of 131-70.

His 2023-24 team only lost to one team in the state of Kansas, Topeka Seaman, who went on to be state champions.

In addition to receiving the Eddie Ryan Award, he was a finalist for 5A coach of the year from Sports in Kansas and will be one of the Co-Coaches for the Kansas Women’s team in the DiRenna All-Star Game on April 12.

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