Eddie Ryan Award
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"
Matt Rice, Head Boys Basketball Coach at De Soto High School
Matt Rice has been leading the De Soto Wildcats for the past 12 seasons. During the last 3 seasons he and the Wildcats have advanced to the KSHSAA Class 5A State Tournament, earning 3 Sub State Championships and 1 United Kansas Conference Championship. After going to state in back to back seasons during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 with a veteran group of varsity players he knew that the 2021-22 season would be new challenge. The Wildcats had one varsity starter returning for the past season and began the season with many new faces, all of which had limited to no experience playing at the varsity level. Coach Rice was able to bring them together and get them playing hard regardless of the game situation early in the season and were able to put together a very successful season with his young group. With the effort he was able to get the Wildcats to give, they found themselves in positions to win games and compete at a very high level. Coach Rice and the Wildcats amassed a 20-5 record, a Runner Up finish at the Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic, a Runner Up Finish in the United Kansas Conference, a Sub State Championship, and advanced to the Class 5A State Championship where their season came to close as the State Runner Up.
Chris Neff, Head Boys Basketball Coach at Staley High School
Chris Neff just completed his 6th year as head coach at Staley. This year's team compiled a 27-5 record while winning for the third straight season the William Jewell Tournament, Liberty Tournament, Suburban Red Conference, and District Title. The Falcons finished 3rd in the State in Class 6 to wrap up the schools most successfu season to date. Coach Neff has already been recognized as the Coach of the Year by 810 Varsity and Metro Sports KC.
Brandon Parker, Head Girls Basketball Coach at Eudora High School
Brandon Parker just completed his third season coaching at Eudora. This season was a historic season for Eudora Girls Basketball. This team was the first Eudora team to be an undefeated Frontier League champion. He led his team to their first league championship in 14 years. They achieved the most wins in school history with 23. The team also set the school record with 23 consecutive wins. This was their second sub-state championship in three years. The opening round win at state marked the first state win in the history of the program. In addition, the 2nd place finish is the highest in school history.
Kory Lower, Head Girls Basketball Coach at Blue Springs South High School
Kory Lower just completed his 5th year as head coach at Blue Springs South, after spending 4 years as an assistant in the program before that. He led his team to a 3rd place finish in state in Class 6 with an overall record of 26-5. They won their school's first ever conference championship (14-0 in Suburban Gold) and set the school record for wins. They also captured their first district title since 2006. Two of his players (Saneea Bevley and Jaidynn Mason, are both all-star representatives) were recognized as all-state and it is the first time in program history to have two all-state girls in the same season. "They were not just unbelievably talented athletes, but awesome kids who were so much fun to be around. We were very fortunate to have such talented kids who were also so unselfish and always willing to put the team first", stated Coach Lower.
To view the list of the previous recipients of the Eddie Ryan Award
please click here