WATERFORD - Jerry Close is no stranger to the annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis Basketball Classic event, which is scheduled to be played at Parkersburg South's Rod Oldham Athletic Center at 6 p.m. Friday.
In 2009, the 40-year-old Waterford girls' basketball mentor coached the Ohio lady all-stars to a win over West Virginia.
"One of my (Waterford) players, Jessi Drayer, was on that team, and we all had a great time," recalled Close, who will be guiding the Ohio standouts a second time this Friday night.
Times file photo
Waterford girls’ head basketball coach and Ohio BACF Girls All-star mentor Jerry Close, right, receives a district tournament runner-up medal this past season. Close will be coaching in Friday’s BACF Classic for the second time in his career.
This year's 11th annual game will feature two senior Lady Wildcat cagers - Captain Emily Brown and Kaitlyn Pottmeyer.
"This is a great event, and it's very well run," Close continued. "It's all about helping people in need - and that's what it's all about."
If there's a person in the community of Waterford, who "bleeds green," that individual would be Close. A 1989 graduate of Waterford High, where he lettered in basketball, track, and football, he's been coaching hoops for 16 years, now.
Close started out as a junior high boys basketball boss and then coached the junior high girls for a spell. After being an assistant and JV girls coach under Garrett Powers, he got an opportunity to lead the varsity - and he's been at the helm there for the last seven seasons.
During that time, the Waterford girls basketball program has enjoyed a remarkable run. With Close providing guidance, the Lady Wildcats have claimed seven Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking Division championships, six sectional titles, six district crowns, and six regional appearances.
In 2010, Waterford was one win away from advancing to state when it dropped a heartbreaking overtime decision to Columbus Harvest Prep in a regional final at Pickerington North.
This past winter, Waterford posted a 20-4 overall record, making it the program's sixth consecutive season of 20-plus wins.
Along the way, Close has been honored with numerous Coach of the Year awards. A couple of years ago, he led the Ohio Division III-IV South girls at the North-South All-Star game at Capital University in Columbus. "That was one of my biggest accomplishments," Close said. "Sina (King) was on that team."
More recently, Close was an Ohio District 13 coach in an all-star game at Jackson High.
"I've really had some good kids in my seven years as head coach," he said.
Two of those former Lady Wildcat players are currently competing at the college level. King is playing at the University of Akron, while Drayer is at Waynesburg (Pa.) State University.
Married 16 years, Close and his wife Dawn have three daughters - Janetta, Joni, and Jantzen.
Occupation-wise, Close is a self-employed contractor, who "builds kitchen cabinets."