BY CHRIS STEELE
Coach Andrew Booth has had much success in his tenure as the Lady Grizzlies Basketball coach, and the winning culture that he has brought to Wadsworth is continuing to grow.
On November 30, 2019 Coach Booth earned his 300th career win at Wadsworth High School. The Lady Grizzlies bested the Hudson Explorers 52-46 to earn the victory. He also gained his 400th overall career win on December 14, 2019 after defeating the North Royalton Bears 45-23.
Ever since Booth took over the reigns of coaching Lady Grizzly Basketball at Wadsworth in 2005, he has been seen as one of the major figure heads of Wadsworth Athletics. He has received multiple achievements throughout his time at Wadsworth, such as claiming 12 Suburban League Titles, being ranked 56th in the nation, and winning the State Championship in 2016 all as a coach on the girls team.
The Lucas, Ohio native started his first seven years coaching with boy players until making the switch to girls.
His first experience coaching came at the expense of his college basketball coach who allowed him to have a two year stint as an assistant at Malone University. Booth then went onto coach at Mansfield St. Peter High as a boys junior varsity and varsity assistant coach. From there, he then moved onto an assistant coaching and teaching job at Crestline University.
For Booth, coaching the girls team had never crossed his mind.
“My buddy at Crestline, the Crestline girls coach, knew that Madison High School had a very good girls team and had a coaching position open,” said Booth. “I ended up calling them and the more we talked, the more interested I got until I eventually applied and got the job.”
Although he enjoyed his time at Madison, Booth had nothing but joy for the move to Wadsworth.
“Wadsworth has almost always had a very successful program and I was ecstatic to be a part of it,” said Booth. “My main thing coming in was that I didn’t want to mess it up.”
Booth’s parents were both teachers when he was growing up. At first he did not want to follow in their footsteps, but over time, the idea of pursuing a profession in education started to become a reality for the Malone University alumnus.
“At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into teaching because I wanted to try something different than my parents,” said Booth. “I thought I wanted to go into business, but after my first accounting class I realized that was not the right choice and went into teaching.”
After coaching at numerous different schools, Booth was glad to bring his passion for teaching and coaching to Wadsworth. He came in to take over for the very successful coach and English teacher at Wadsworth, Scott Callaghan. Before Booth came to Wadsworth 15 years ago, The Lady Grizzlies had proven to be very triumphant and a winning culture had established as part of the program.
“There was a lot of pride and tradition in the Wadsworth program before I came into the head coaching role,” said Booth. “I wanted to keep building upon the success that the program has had and bring a new perspective.”
In the duration of his stay at Wadsworth, he has seen nothing less than pure success in his eyes. Many players whom he had the privilege of coaching have left the program to continue playing at the college level, such as sophomore at Ashland University, Sophia Fortner, who has much praise for her past high school coach and mentor.
“He has always made us all feel so capable of doing the impossible and empowered us to be the best versions of ourselves as players and people,” said Fortner. “I have no doubt that he is a huge reason behind where I am now as a person and a collegiate player.”
Another local legend, two time first-team All-Ohio and 2016 Wadsworth graduate, Jodi Johnson, greatly appreciates the support that her “second dad” continues to give.
“He has helped me grow so much as a player and as a person; he has had such a positive impact on my life,” said Johnson. “Even in college, I still get a ton of support and coaching from him. He definitely has earned the ‘G.O.A.T.’ status and left a legacy in Wadsworth and the entire state.”
Being a future Hall of Fame coach requires one to be very well rounded in his or her ability, but what Booth thinks has allowed him to be so successful are the kids he’s gotten to coach.
“I have been very fortunate since coming to Wadsworth because I have been able to work with such a great group of kids and athletes that are very good at what they do,” Booth expressed. “To the kids at Wadsworth especially, basketball is very important and the kids here work very hard to get better and perfect their game.”
It takes time and patience to stay in a program like Wadsworth for such a long time. The thing that makes Booth want to continue his coaching career each year is the student athletes that he gets to build relationships with each day.
“The kids definitely make everything about the job so much better,” Booth expressed. “I love getting the opportunity to come in each day to coach and teach a bunch of great young ladies. All the bonds and memories we all have been able to build throughout my time here are some of the best things I get to be a part of.”
Coach Booth has definitely set a standard at Wadsworth with his winning ways. He has had a tremendous impact on all of his students and athletes, past and present, and many are thankful for what he has contributed to their lives. Although he has had a very accomplished coaching career to this point, the winning tradition appears to not yet be over for Booth and the Lady Grizzlies. His legacy that he has left and is continuing to build on, is one that people will certainly remember for many years to come.