New era

GLEN DALE – It didn’t take long for new John Marshall athletics director Casey Storm to spring his vision for the school into action. Storm introduced Brock Melko and Luke Samples as girls’ and boys’ basketball coaches Wednesday at the school, which continues to usher in a new era.

”My main two goals have been to unite the different teams together and to hire the best coaches that we could,” Storm said. “It’s really, really important to me.

“I think if you get the hire right everything else kind of comes into line.”

Storm, who played and coached basketball at John Marshall, takes over for the outgoing Chuck Duckworth.

”He has almost let me go for two years and do things, and then I had him there to say ‘am I doing this OK? What would you do in this situation?’ ” Storm said. “Most ADs would not have given up control like Chuck has.

”He’s been an unbelievable mentor to me.

“He’s let me be an AD in training for two years, and that’s helped.”

Now Storm is putting his own stamp on things, and prospective employees have already taken notice.

Just ask Samples, a graduate of both Oak Glen and Glenville State who has spent the last six years in the Eastern Panhandle at Hampshire.

”It’s just an unbelievable place to be with everyone on the same page, which I am not used to,” said Samples, 27, a Health and Physical Education teacher. ”I feel the community should be excited. What is there not to be excited for?

“We all have each others’ backs and one goal in mind. Who knows how long it will take to get there?

“With the right people to get it there, the sky is the limit.”

Storm calls Samples a “program builder,” judging from his success at Hampshire, which he led to respectable heights despite essentially having to survive on the table scraps of state powers Martinsburg, Washington and Hedgesville. Samples said he is glad to be back in a blue-collar environment, the type he has thrived in during the past.

”Basically I want to get five Luke Samples out on that floor,” he said. ”I was never the most athletic but I worked hard, I boxed out, I rebounded and was strong and physical. That’s what my teams play like – strong and physical.

”You’re going to know you played us when you leave the gym, win or lose.”

Melko, a Math teacher, also graduated from John Marshall (2009) and played for the Monarchs, following in Storm’s path and taking an assistant boys’ job the last five years. The 23-year-old who is replacing Mark McCormick, who is taking on an assistant AD role, said coaching is in his blood, having learned from both his father and grandfather.

”I’m thrilled to get a chance to see what I can do,” said Melko, who helped lead JM to its lone boys’ basketball state tournament appearance. ”I’ve always been a fan of John Marshall and I went here.

”I could never imagine being anywhere else.”

Melko, whose team will move its games this season from the high school to the John Marshall Field House in Moundsville, admits switching from coaching boys to girls will be a little bit of an adjustment, but noted that hard work isn’t gender specific.

”I had been with the boys for five years so I kind of got used to them and made some relationships. I’m looking forward to doing the same with the girls, getting to know them and building some connections … getting them to buy in and trust me,” Melko said. ”Not just basketball, the girls at this school … whether it’s track, volleyball, softball, there are some very talented girls with a lot of potential. All I am going to ask is for them to put the work in.

”If they put the work in, who is to say how far we will go. But the talent is there to work with, for sure.”

Assembling coaching staffs are in the very beginning stages, but the new duo is going to jump into the community head-first, beginning with a soon-to-be-announced joint basketball camp at the school.

”We’re going to do them on the same days so we can help each other out,” Melko said. “That’s one of the most important things, is to get the youth and grade schools interested and get into contact with the parents.

”But I think working with the boys and girls together is going to bring the community in as a whole.”

Samples, who began texting Melko on Tuesday night after the the Marshall County Board of Education approved recommendations for their hirings, is all for collaboration.

”Me and Brock, we have already worked on stuff,” said Samples, whose legendary 3-pointer against Magnolia in a Class AA Regional at the JM Field House, is arguably the biggest shot hit in that gym in the last two decades. ”It was a magical shot and it’s still probably the single greatest moment of my life because I have dedicated my life to the game of basketball.

”I don’t think anything happens by coincidence. There’s a reason why I am back here … to make more moments like that.”