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Ryan Grose overcame devastating injury to HOF

Mark Hazelwood • Jan 14, 2020 at 10:10 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a four-part series highlighting the Norwalk High School Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which will be held on Saturday.

 

It almost never happened.

In 1993, Ryan Grose came home from a summer-league basketball game in which he did not play well. The rising sophomore at Norwalk High School went outside to play at home, taking a leap to slam-dunk the basketball.

“I lost my grip on the rim and went face-first to the ground, fracturing both my wrists,” said Grose, a 1996 NHS graduate.

The story makes Grose’s accomplishment of being selected to the Norwalk High School Hall of Fame all the more impressive. As one of the greatest scorers and post players in program history, Grose essentially put together his HOF career in just two-plus seasons.

Grose, along with Bob Cowman (soccer), Robin Welch (distinguished) and Gary Wilde (baseball), make up the NHS Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which will be recognized at an induction banquet and ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Art Gallery at Norwalk High School.

Missing practice and playing time the rest of that summer and into fall and winter, Grose lost a critical phase of development — and the chance at making the varsity roster.

“It took me a while to get back, because I wasn’t the strongest kid to begin with at that time,” he said. “I was behind, and had to work really hard to get from the JV to the varsity at that point.”

But it was also around that same time when Grose put in the work when no one was looking — in part because they couldn't have seen him, even if they wanted to.

“The Rec Center was right up the road from where I lived, so I spent a lot of time in the gym,” Grose said. “And they didn’t turn on the lights for me. I was in there in the dark a lot.”

As a junior in 1994-95, Grose helped the Truckers to a 16-8 record — the seventh-most wins in a single season — and a Division II district runners-up finish. It’s one of 10 Norwalk teams to play for a district championship.

But it was Grose’s senior season that is one of the greatest in the history of not only Norwalk basketball, but also the Northern Ohio League.

In 1995-96, Grose led the league in scoring (453 points, 22.6 average), free-throw percentage (73 of 92, 79.3 percent) and blocked shots (39, 1.3 average). With 223 rebounds (11.1 average), he was just three rebounds behind the NOL leader.

Not only is Grose one of eight players in program history to lead the league in scoring, he’s also one of just five NHS players to rank tops in blocked shots, and one of three players to lead in free-throw percentage.

He did it all in the same season, which earned him All-NOL and Div. II Northwest District first-team honors, along with All-Ohio special mention.

“A little bit of luck, but it definitely felt like I worked really hard to get to that point,” Grose said of his historic senior season. “I certainly couldn’t have done it without the help of my teammates, and we had a great group of guys that spent a lot of time in the gym. It made it easier on me to go in there and want to work, and because of the support of my parents and the coaches that were there as well.”

With records of 16-8 and 13-8 during Grose’s junior and senior seasons, he was a key figure on the first back-to-back winning seasons at Norwalk in 24 years, dating back to the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons.

“We had two major goals that were driven in us by Coach (Ken) Broz at that time, and that was winning the league and stringing together consecutive winning seasons,” Grose said. “We came up short with the league, but my junior year, when we beat Bellevue (82-80 in overtime) in an exciting sectional title game was a memorable time."

In his two-plus years on the varsity team, Grose scored 1,011 career points, good for 10th all-time in program history. His 467 points for the 1995-96 season rank seventh all-time, while his 559 career rebounds are sixth. His 88 career tournament points put him ninth overall.

“My biggest memory was the group of guys and the time we spent together,” he said. “Some of those guys are coming in from as far away as Florida for this weekend who I haven’t seen much — but they are coming back and it means a lot to me. The time we spent together in the gym, hanging out together ... those are the things you look back on. I couldn’t tell you what our record was, but I could tell you who my teammates were and the fun we had.”

As a basketball lifer, Grose has stayed connected to the sport he was essentially born into when his father, Mike, served as NHS head coach (1979-82) and later as athletic director.

After high school, Grose earned an NCAA Div. I scholarship to play at Wright State University. After a red-shirt first season, Grose played two years at WSU, then transferred and finished his college eligibility for two seasons at Div. II Walsh University in Canton.

He then spent a year as an assistant at North Canton Hoover High School, followed by two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Findlay while he earned his master's degree in education.

That led Grose to a six-year stay in South Euclid as an assistant coach at Notre Dame College. He’s currently in his 10th season as the head coach and science teacher at Marysville High School — 34 miles northwest of Columbus. He and his wife, Mary, are parents of a six-year-old daughter, Jensen.

About basketball, Grose noted, “it's just something I’ve been around since I can remember, and it’s always been a part of my life. You fall in love with it and enjoy it. I don’t play much anymore, but certainly enjoy helping kids improve, get better and compete. My hope is the kids I coach have some of the memories I do about my high-school years in Norwalk.”

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