WELLSTON – The Wellston City Schools Board of Education remained in-house last Monday night and hired junior varsity coach and varsity assistant Robert Fouty as its new boys’ head basketball coach.

A longtime assistant coach for the Rockets, Fouty replaces Joe Briggs, who announced his resignation at the end of the 2019-2020 basketball season.

Fouty spent three seasons as the junior varsity coach and was a varsity assistant on Briggs’ staff after more than a decade of coaching at various levels in the Wellston program.

“I am excited to be in this position finally,” said Fouty. “I have been coaching here for 15 years. This is the dream job for me. Wellston is the only school I wanted to coach varsity basketball.

“I am excited about the group of kids that we have at all levels this year.”

The school board approved the hire at last week’s meeting by a 4-1 vote, with the only no vote coming from board member, Terry Gill.

In an interview with The Telegram, Fouty said the process leading to his hiring seemed long and drawn out.

That’s because, during its June meeting, the Wellston City Schools Board of Education rejected the recommendation by a five-member committee to hire Rob Ervin for the position.

Board members Terry Gill, along with Gretchen Crabtree, voted in favor of hiring Ervin. Still, Betty Jenkins, along with Vice-President Jennifer Pittman and President Brian Kilgour, each cast no votes.

Mrs. Jenkins stated the Wellston City Schools have an agreement contract with the Wellston Teachers Association, which indicates if a WTA member is a certified, licensed employee and they apply for a supplemental position, then it should be offered to them.

“The WTA has a member, who applied and was interviewed for the position,” Jenkins said during that meeting.

She further stated that the board expects the WTA to abide by the contract, and the WTA expects the board to comply with that same contract. Therefore, she voted against the hiring of Ervin.

A 2005 graduate of Wellston, who works as an intervention specialist at the high school, Fouty first joined the Wellston basketball program as a volunteer assistant on the late Jim Derrow’s staff.

“He brought me on the staff as a volunteer, and then he gave me my first head coaching job,” said Fouty. “Before that, I coached one year with Brant Derrow on the junior varsity.”

He said (Brant) Derrow was an inspiration to him, which is why he will serve on Fouty’s staff as a varsity assistant during the upcoming season.

“I learned a lot under him,” said Fouty. “It was very early in my years of coaching under him. How he conducted his practices, and how he made adjustments in games, and relayed things to the kids, helped me learn the aspects of coaching.”

Fouty, who has been in the gym with the players since the dead period was lifted just after Memorial Day, said he hopes to make an impact in his first season, and he feels he has the talent to do it.

“We are going to change things up. We want to be competitive with everybody,” Fouty said. “I feel like the team has a lot of talent and athleticism. I want to teach them to be smarter and better basketball players. That is something we emphasize.

“We do a lot of skill stuff in the summer and throughout the season. We also work on decision-making drills, which is an area I feel like has been our weakness in the past.”

Fouty has become a familiar last name around the program during the previous 15 years, and now the team knows who their new head coach is, they are buying in.

“The kids have been coming out since day one,” he said. “The reception has been great. Several kids are coming out, and we hope to begin workouts for the middle school kids this week.”

Coach Fouty said former Vinton County High School standout Tristan Bartoe has been coming in a couple of days per week, working with the team on speed agility, and jumping drills, as well as skill stuff.

He and his staff are taking advantage of the unlimited practice days this summer.

“We are into phase 3, and we’ve had inter-squad scrimmages. Everything within our team and following the guidelines,” said Fouty.

Coach Fouty is hoping for a season, but with the unpredictability of the Coronavirus pandemic, the future is unsure.

“We have so many seniors this year – in all sports – and I would hate for them not to have a season because of this,” Fouty said.