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The Suburbanite
  • King's View: Coventry coach faces 300th win

  • When Lynn Wess took over – for the first time – as the head boys basketball coach at Coventry High School in 1983, he said his goal was “to just coach as long as I could.”

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  • When Lynn Wess took over – for the first time – as the head boys basketball coach at Coventry High School in 1983, he said his goal was “to just coach as long as I could.”
    The fact he’s still coaching 30 years later, with no plans to retire anytime soon, means he has reached that goal, and then some.
    Now, four head coaching jobs later, Wess is back at Coventry and on the brink of reaching a milestone that was not on his radar three decades ago: 300 career victories.
    “I never thought about it,” he said last weekend. “It never crossed my mind.”
    Wess went into last week with a career record of 299-253 in 26 seasons. His Comets lost 63-56 on Tuesday night to streaking Norton, the first-place team in the Metro Division of the Portage Trail Conference, and fell to 9-7 overall and 6-4 in the league. It broke the Comets’ four-game winning streak.
    So he tried again on Friday night when Coventry played at Streetsboro in another league game.
    “When the 300th win comes – if it comes, and I mean that sincerely because I never take anything for granted – it will be special, certainly,” Wess said. “I’m very blessed to still being doing this.”
    But then the 57-year-old added with a laugh, “What this also means is that I’m pretty old and I’ve lasted a long time. If you coach long enough, you’re going to get a lot of wins.”
    Maybe so – and maybe not.
    Getting victories on the high school level is never easy, no matter who you are or where you’re coaching. Each win is to be cherished.
    And that’s been particularly the case in Wess’s career, since four of the five jobs he’s had have been fixer-uppers – that is, programs that were down and needed to be rebuilt.
    Wess had been an assistant coach for four years at Coventry when he took over in the 1983-84 season for Craig Bailey, who left to become an assistant principal at Green High School.
    “That first team started 2-0 – we beat Walsh Jesuit -- and I was thinking, ‘Hey, maybe we’ve got something here,’ but then my big kid, Tony Oman, broke both wrists when he tried to brace his fall after dunking in practice. It went downhill from there,” Wess said.
    Wess amassed 31 wins overall in four years with the Comets before he was among 17 Coventry teachers to lose their jobs in a reduction in force move in 1986.
    “That was kind of a crossroads in my career, but I got lucky in that (Jeromesville) Hillsdale was looking for a coach right then,” Wess said. “The timing was perfect, and I got hired.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Wess did his longest stint there, coaching at the Wayne County League school for 11 seasons and recording 154 victories. He nearly took the Falcons to the Division IV state tournament one year, losing to Mansfield St. Peter’s in the regional championship game.
    “I really enjoyed my time at Hillsdale, but I wanted to get closer to home,” the Canton-area native said.
    That’s when he was able to get the job at Chippewa High in Doylestown in 1998. Staying eight seasons, he garnered 89 total victories with the Chipps.
    Taking some time off from head coaching “to re-charge my batteries,” he served as an assistant at Wadsworth for two years, after which he made his first – and only – foray into girls basketball when he became the head coach at Green for the 2010-11 season. The program there was already very solid, and the Bulldogs won 14 games under Wess.
    He left to become the boys coach at Coventry – again – in 2011.
    “It was a nice change to coach the girls that year at Green, but in going back to Coventry, it gave me the opportunity to coach my son, Conner,” Wess said.
    A resident of New Franklin who lives in the Manchester school district, Wess pulled Conner out of Manchester schools and open enrolled him at Coventry. Conner is now a freshman playing on the junior varsity team at the high school. Wess’s other son, Spencer, remains in the Manchester school system, where he is a junior at the high school.
    Like his initial go-around there, the Coventry program was struggling when Wess arrived. His first team last year was just 4-17, but this season’s squad has a real shot at posting a winning record for the first time in about seven years. Two weeks ago, the Comets took a step in that direction with a 54-39 victory over Kent Roosevelt, their first win over the Rough Riders since joining the PTC nine years ago.
    The Comets haven’t won a league championship for 55 years, since the 1957-58 season, when they were in the Metro League.
    “That’s the long-term goal, to break that streak, but we’re not worried about that right now. We need to get a winning season first,” Wess said.
    Wess hopes the bond issue for a new high school passes on Feb. 5.
    “I hope the voters take advantage of the opportunity they have,” he said. “I know I’d love the chance to coach my son in a brand new facility.”
    And if not, then Wess will continue to coach in the present gym as he works toward win No. 400.

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