TPS hires Clinton teacher to coach boys varsity basketball


Mike Ruhl is pictured inside the Jungle at THS gymnasium. Photo by Mickey Alvarado.

Long-time Clinton High School varsity boys basketball coach and teacher Mike Ruhl was in Tecumseh High School on Tuesday picking up his keys to the building and making preparations to take over Tecumseh’s varsity boys basketball program.

Tecumseh Athletic Director Jon Zajac announced on Wednesday, May 4, that Ruhl had been hired for the coaching position, replacing Jamie Mossburg. Mossburg was hired as a temporary replacement for Scott Norkey, who was terminated from the position just before the beginning of the season. Mossburg’s team went 5-15 last season.

Zajac said the position was posted once basketball season ended and seven applicants were interviewed in mid-April. The panel consisted of Zajac, Mossburg, Human Resources Director Sarah Alexander, Craig Freestone, the Tecumseh Public Schools virtual academy director and junior varsity baseball coach, and two students.

“Mike [Ruhl] was one of those guys and he just fit what we needed,” said Zajac. “He’s a strong believer in the youth program, he’s had success as a high school coach and lives in the area. He’s a teacher. It’s always good to have a teacher as a coach. He brings a lot of experience. We feel real lucky to get him.”

Ruhl, 41, will continue to teach (Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Forensic Science) at Clinton High School. “I’m locked into my teaching position at Clinton,” he said. “I really like the classes that I teach. I have some opportunity to grow my program. I’m really happy and enjoy every day working with kids in Clinton in the classroom.”

“New challenges, new opportunities,” was Ruhl’s response to the question why he made the decision to take the Tecumseh coaching position.

“It’s a much different setting with the league, the SEC [Southeastern Conference] compared with the TCC [Tri-County Conference],” said Ruhl. “It’s a chance to take everything I’ve learned at Clinton and try to apply it here and help Tecumseh basketball get back to where it’s been in the past.”

Ruhl accumulated a win-loss record of 226-149 at Clinton since being hired as the varsity boys head coach 17 years ago. The success of his Clinton teams over the past years include winning the Lenawee County Athletic Association title in 2005 and three TCC championships.

“We were fortunate enough to get to the regional final, the round of sixteen, twice,” said Ruhl. “Those were special seasons. It would be fun to get to the point here where that would be a possibility.”

Ruhl said it was a tough decision to leave his Clinton coaching position. “I have great memories in Clinton and all the support there from the community and a lot of players and ex-players coming up that I had relationships with. But, sometimes change is good,” he said.
A native of Dexter, he graduated high school in 1992 and went to Hillsdale College where he played basketball for four years until 1996. He started teaching in Clinton in 1997 and coached middle school basketball, freshman and junior varsity teams before being hired two years later to replace Ron Schaffner as the Redskins’ head varsity boys basketball coach.
One of the first things Ruhl will do in Tecumseh is work on a youth basketball program. He said Clinton had a successful youth basketball league, an in-house program that created travel team opportunities for kids to play at other schools. “That will be something started this summer with our youth camp in June,” he said.
Ruhl’s hopes are kids of all grade levels in the program will improve and stay with the sport, becoming part of the equation for the varsity program down the road. He said a lot of his players have commented about how influenced they were when having varsity players help coach them in the youth basketball program.
“When it was their turn to help coach the young guys they really saw the meaning in it,” said Ruhl.
Zajac has not set any timeline for Ruhl to turn the program around and both understand that it will take some time before that is possible.
Ruhl has not yet selected any assistants but is in the process of making that decision. “There is a lot to be done,” Ruhl said.
“It’s a good opportunity. And I’m going to take advantage and really enjoy it. I have the support of my family. I’m confident I’m going to get a lot of support and patience here that it’s going to take to hopefully do it right and benefit from that.”
Ruhl said that in his experience at Clinton it took several years before they were at the level of competition he was seeking.
“It was five years before we made our first good run,” he said. “There was ground work that needed to be laid and the development of the culture and the program itself. It’s not an overnight thing.”
Jumping from the TCC to the SEC is not an easy transition for any coach with perennial powerhouses competing in the league. In the 2014-2015 school year, Clinton High School was listed in Class C with approximately 367 students while Tecumseh was in Class B with approximately 869. The Indians compete in the SEC against Class A schools including Ann Arbor Pioneer (approximately 1,857 students) and Ann Arbor Huron (approximately 1,722 students).
Adrian is the only school in the SEC that has fewer high school students than Tecumseh with approximately 810.
“We’re going to give max-effort and I’m going to expect my players to do that as well and that’s really step-one,” Ruhl said. “We’ll take baby steps so eventually over time put the work in to be able to expect to step out on the court and win. But it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of work by a lot of people.”


Tecumseh Herald


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Tecumseh, MI 49286

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