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Leaning on Lyon’s, My Journey to Christ through Courts of the Commonwealth This is my season.

@CoachRyanKY 🦉

120 counties, 64 districts, and 16 Regions make up the rich history of high school hoops in the Commonwealth. The KHSAA Sweet 16 is dubbed by many around these parts to be the (tongue in cheek) “best event in all of sports”. That grandiose entry does not begin to tell my story…..I am ready to lay it all on the line….like a ripping Jack Reddick or Travis Perry diving for a loose ball. A bruising Brady Shoulders battling in the paint for a tough rebound with Harlan’s own "certified bucket" Trent Noah. A newly-minted legend in the hollers of a (now formerly) hopeless underserved part of our state. I may be past my playing days…but here it is, this is my testimony.

In college, my basketball journey came when former Colonel (and then Director of Basketball operations) Ryan Weirsma took an interest in me becoming a manager for the Eastern Kentucky University Colonel’s men’s basketball team. Being a kid raised in the shadows of Rupp Arena (or more like in it as you will soon learn), I always was completely filled with hoops hysteria. My thoughts, my emotions, my relationship with my dad…all seemed to be based around basketball usually in a positive way.

My dad, began taking me to the KHSAA Sweet 16 when I was a young boy. The game I can remember the furthest back is Chris Lofton’s epic stretch in 2003 for the Mason County Royals. I attended yearly, dreading the thought of having to go to school and miss the afternoon sessions. The complete ambiance of Rupp Arena consumed my malleable youth mind and a dream began to form.

After college, I went to work in Law Enforcement at the Fayette County Detention Center. I was a young 22 years old, naive to what the real world was, but by god I was going to save it. I found success at the jail, graduating the academy near the top of my class and quickly earning a promotion to the intake counter where I would be faced with belligerent criminals each and every night on 2nd shift (430pm to midnight….and 8am if I was mandated to work Overtime). They were not happy to see me, as I was not happy to see this side of humanity or the faces that began to burn images in my brain. Over a course of some events, which I will explain in detail in a later planned book, I went to a doctor’s appointment with my psychiatrist for a “routine” prescription refill. He knew something was wrong. Long story short, I had a complete mental breakdown. I was in the psychiatrist’s office for the next four-hours…being talked off of the ledge quite literally. After long discussions, and constant supervision, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the events I had experienced in the detention center. I was floored. I immediately was put on leave and FMLA assistance and was basically told that I needed to take some “me” time.

Here’s the part I failed to mention. I was a heavy drinker during this time. I would consume beer to the numbers of 20-30 when I would decide it was “party time”. You guessed it….psychiatric medication and alcohol do not mix! I will spare the details but a poor drunken decision led to my arrest when I was 18 years old. But I didn’t learn my lesson, sure….I knew how to avoid police….but I still would get loaded when I felt like it because “it was fun” and “it’s just want 20-something’s do”. Well….I was the only one having fun. I would say horrible things to my friends, my family, and was just overall a depressed (and depraved) individual.

When I returned from my “me” time…I thought I would be met with the warm embrace of those I thought were my brothers and sisters in blue. Blindsidedly, I was met with very derogatory jokes, name calling, and vicious bullying from supervisors in the form of write ups (like nodding off for five minutes on my third 16 hour overtime shift in a row and being suspended without pay). I had enough, I put in my resignation and essentially became an aimless drifter until Covid, I was employed….but in crud jobs and I began to show it in my health.

Months before Covid, I welcomed my complete world into the one we all share together. Palmer Rose was born and I would soon be terminated from another dead-end job due to the pandemic. The financial backing of Covid, along with the new loving eyes of my daughter, rejuvenated me. I was so excited to spend any time that I could with her, how could something so precious belong to me?

I met my wife at Eastern Kentucky University my freshman year as I was playing Goalie for the Colonel’s Ice Hockey team. A nasty concussion against Xavier made me second guess if I really loved the game. It turned out I did not, but I did love a girl back in Richmond. After I left, I trained in mixed martial arts to stay in shape. Heather and I would go to every Colonel’s basketball game as they stormed out to an exciting 9-0 start to their season. I was seeing the old Colonel head on SportsCenter, I was at the games….I was falling in love with a different game.

2013-14 brought my first year as a manager for Eastern. We know how the story ended and I will tell that story another day as well over the course of our amazing two year run.

Now that you have some background, here is my story.

December 30th, 2023…my dad and I walk into Lexington Catholic High School to catch a “glimpse” of KHSAA’s All-Time leading scorer Travis Perry. I had heard the legends of old tell the infamous tales of Wayland’s “King” Kelly Coleman. I have always been a massive history buff (my wife and I even honeymooned to the Smithsonian, I know…I am a dork). That day Perry went off, beating Lexington Catholic in an exciting game which at one point saw both teams trading blows from well beyond the NBA three point arc. My dad and I were giddy, talking to people around us..laughing..and most of all, just enjoying being in a crazy good high school environment. My wheels began to turn, how can I get back to this?

In September, I was forced to resign a position which I successfully held for close to 3 years in Lexington. I cannot name it but if you do some research, you could figure it out. (Mr. Ryan). I was unsure of where to turn, but for me..the situation had turned toxic and it was time for a change (sound familiar??). I resigned the day before my anniversary with Heather, unsure of what life would bring…but I couldn’t do it any more. Earlier in 2023, I collapsed in my office…after being rushed to the hospital, basically “code-ing” in the ambulance, and poked and prodded on over the next few weeks. I was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition. My world had to change, my unhealthy lifestyle did as well..or I was going to die. That’s not being dramatic. I was 300 lbs, unhealthy, unhappy, depressed, and still suffering from the effects of PTSD.

I found my way into coaching youth basketball, I worked a deal out where if I wrote for a developing scouting service…he’d give me an AAU team to coach. All of this was going to be unpaid, except for the coaching basketball part. I was excited, I figured I could go to the All “A” Classic…watch Travis Perry again, and write. That’s exactly what I did…I travelled the state nightly, finding a game…writing my “report”.

I will go into the next encounter with much more depth when the time is appropriate, right now I feel as it is not, but a negative encounter with the police shifted my focus completely. Was I doing this for the right reasons? Was I being taken advantage of?

I found myself back in Richmond..stuffing my face with the infamous tacos of Casa Fiesta, getting ready to go cover a Model Lab basketball game. I was bummed, I knew the Colonels (which were on a hot streak) would be at home and I’d be missing it. I received a text message in a group chat with my coaching co-workers, saying that the team assignments had been announced! YES!!! THIS IS MY SHOT!!

I didn’t get a team.

When I was in 7th grade, I was overweight and suffering from the effects of heavy dosages of Methotrexate and Prednisone, accompanied with monthly trips to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. People knew, I would be looked at differently and constantly bullied for my appearance. It was relentless. I was at a “Christian” private school…but it sure felt like hell. I had very few friends, but I still was in love with sports. Attending the Sweet 16 with my dad was tradition by this point. I dreamt of one day gracing the Rupp floor, leading the LCA Eagles to glory..a state title. I enthusiastically purchased the brand new “Kevin Garnett” shoes and joined by 14 classmates at the two-day “try out”. I was asked to run suicides, I struggled. I was asked to shoot, I did not.

I had attended the youth basketball camps at the church the tryout was held for many years. The director had become a very familiar face to me. I was so happy that I was going to get to play my middle school basketball for him! After the second night of tryouts, I waited patiently by the answering machine (yes, that used to be a thing) to hear the news that I made the team! The voice mail came….of the 14 classmates that tried out…13 made it, I did not. I felt betrayed.

After sitting in the booth in Richmond at Casa, I made an executive decision that I was going to rewrite my story. I no longer was going to work for “free” under someone that did not respect my basketball background, nor held his word.

“The Coach Ryan Report” was born.

I started from scratch, having to be completely self taught. I was willing to do whatever it took. I would sleep around 3-4 hours nightly, building my own website ( in hopes that I could one day live my dream.

I was running into wall-after-wall, not progressing and becoming increasingly frustrated with not seeing results for the hours of work I was putting into building my brand. On February 27th, after a very bad day in Winchester. I drove home in silence, crying.

I did not know where to turn, I did not know what to do. I parked in my driveway…couldn’t bring myself to go inside. I was beaten down. Was it time to end all of this suffering? What did I do to deserve this? I started cursing at the lord..telling him if he was real he’d show me right now, I was done waiting.

Ten minutes later, I heard a voice that told me to message my friend Jeff Reno. Jeff and I had become friends through playing golf over covid and bonded over a connection to my in-laws as he grew up in Church with them. He also recently launched “Rise of an Underdog” a documentary on UFC’s Harry Hunsucker. Messaged him I did. After some business talk, he offered me a platform, he wanted me to come to Untd We Stnd. I was ready, this was my opportunity. I hear you God.

Fast forward to my work that many of you have now seen, I have begun to make the right contacts with the right people. I am 100% sober, I do not drink alcohol nor do I have the desire to. I am down 50 lbs from my heart event weight. My relationship with my wife has jumped to another level. I am happy. I am free.

When Lyon County’s Brady Shoulders dunked that ball at the buzzer. It capped off a story that has been told a million times. But it felt like a story book ending to mine. Congrats to the Lyon County gave me hope.

Believe in yourself, trust good people, feel your emotions. Life is too short and precious to be bitter. This world could use some positivity, and it was loudly on display in Lexington on Saturday night.

Welcome to my world, this is my story.

God Bless,

“Coach” Ryan Hoots

I'd really appreciate a follow on Twitter @CoachRyanKY

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