CALCUTTA-After posting its first winning season in nine years, the Beaver Local boys basketball team hopes it has found a man to take the program to the next level.
Jeremy Christen was named the new head coach at Monday's Beaver Local Board of Education meeting.
A 2001 graduate of Beaver Local, Christen replaces Jake Walgate who stepped down after six seasons.
"I can't wait to get in the gym and get started," Christen said. "Over the past few years I feel that we've built a strong foundation and I'm excited to see where we can take things from here."
Christen currently is employed by a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Wintersville and has spent the past three seasons as an assistant varsity coach for the Beavers while also coaching the freshman team.
While at Beaver Local, he was a two-year letterman on the basketball team and was named to the Morning Journal's All-Area second team in 2001.
As a senior, Christen led the team in assists (6.0) and was second in scoring (11.8) and free throw percentage (72 percent).
He also stood out on the football field where he was a second-team All-Area defensive back as a senior for a Beaver Local squad that finished the regular season at 10-0.
Superintendent Kent Polen said that Christen's ties to the school played a big part in his hire.
"He is someone who has been around our program and has showed a strong commitment to Beaver Local," Polen said. "He demonstrated that he is willing to take the time to build a solid program."
In the years before Christen was an assistant on Walgate's staff, he spent time helping out with the Beaver Local fifth- and sixth-grade teams. He says that one of his main priorities as head coach will be building a vibrant youth program.
"In the past, the fundamentals at the youth level may have been overlooked a little and that hurt us at the varsity level," Christen said. "A big key to any successful program is developing fundamental skills at an early age and that's something we hope to do."
Last season, Beaver Local posted a 12-11 record, their best since going 17-5 in 2004. Improvement will be a challenge for Christen in his first season as the Beavers must replace four seniors who accounted for 59 percent of their scoring. However, Christen's believes his familiarity with the younger players has given him a nice head start.
"The last few seasons I've been able to establish a good rapport with our returning players," Christen said. "I think that will be huge this year. We can focus on basketball right away instead of trying to get a feel for each other."
Christen also believes that his three years observing Walgate run the program will prove vital.
"I learned a lot of what goes into running a team over the last few years," Christen said. "Coach Walgate already built up a nice foundation for me. I don't need to tear down what he started, I just have to keep things moving."