Former Honesdale boys coach takes over for Pilar Beam

It’s no secret that Honesdale’s girls varsity basketball team has struggled over the course of the past few seasons.

The Lady Hornets, who less than a decade ago had captured three district titles in four years, managed just three league wins during 2018-19 campaign.

In light of this, the Wayne Highlands School Board has decided to take the program in a new direction. At its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night, the Board voted 8-0 to hire Ron Rowe as the new head coach.

“I’m very excited for this new chapter in my coaching career and I’m grateful to the school board for giving me the opportunity,” he said. “I love working with the kids and I can’t wait to get going.”

Rowe’s name is a familiar one to those who follow Honesdale hoops. He was head coach of the boys varsity squad for three decades before retiring in 2009.

In the intervening years, Ron has served as an assistant coach with the freshmen boys squad.

“I really enjoyed my time working with Maria West,” he said. “She gave me freedom, but she also kept me in line. It was a very good experience.”

Rowe now is now deep into preparations for his next challenge: Making the Lady Hornets competitive once again at the league and district levels.

New Direction

Ron Rowe takes over the girls program from Pilar Beam, who coached for five years.

Beam succeeded Tracy Ludwig, whose contract was not renewed after the 2013–4 season despite having won two district titles in three years.

Pilar’s best season by far was her first as she guided Honesdale to an overall record of 24-5 and another district championship.

The Lady Hornets struggled over the next four years, never finishing above .500. The Red & Black qualified twice for districts, but were eliminated in the first round both times.

Beam’s overall record was 49-70 (.412 winning percentage), 24-41 (.370) in the Lackawanna League.

Looking Back

Ron Rowe was born and raised in Wayne County.

He attended Honesdale High School where he was a standout multi-sport athlete, playing baseball, soccer and basketball.

After graduating in 1969, he attended Temple University where he earned his teaching degree and returned to Honesdale.

He began his coaching career as an assistant on the youth football scene, serving on the staff of the Stingers A-Team. He then went on to coach junior high basketball, soccer and freshmen football.

Ron learned the ropes from a veritable Who's Who of Hornet legends like Earl Wilson, Dave Edwards, Butch Keller, Fred Light and Dick Osborne.

Rowe's first chance at the varsity level came early on in the 1979-80 campaign when Hall of Famer Tom Finan decided to step down as boys coach.

Rowe remained in that role for three decades before finally stepping down after the 2008-09 season

Looking Ahead

Rowe is excited and optimistic about this new chapter in his life.

He already has a stellar staff in place, having brought in Kari Kromko and retained Ed “Cousy” Martin. The former will serve as varsity assistant and JV coach, while the latter will handle freshmen duties.

“I wouldn't have taken this on without them, especially Kari,” Ron said. “Having her on board was very important. “I truly believe that a strong female presence is essential to our success on and off the court.”

Kromko was a superstar at both the high school and collegiate levels. She then embarked on a successful coaching career at Western Wayne and with the AAU's Pocono Blizzard.

Kari took a break from coaching as she and her husband, Kevin, started a family. Now, she's ready to get back in action.

“She's at that stage in her life now where she's ready to get back into it,” Ron said. “Plus, she's right there in the school with the girls everyday and that's a huge asset as far as being a coach is concerned.”

Off & Running

Honesdale's new staff will have its hands full as the 2019-20 season dawns.

The Lady Hornets have suffered through four straight losing seasons and will once again be competing in the always-rugged Lackawanna League.

Nevertheless, Rowe is optimistic about the future.

“We've already had meetings with the high school and junior high girls,” Ron said. “We're starting Open Gym sessions April 30 and I'm excited to see what happens.”

Rowe's boys teams were known for their tenacity and being fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game.

“We're going to work hard and play as a team,” Ron said. “I've seen a lot watching Tim Wood coach the boys varsity. I've learned that you can't keep doing the same thing every year. You have to be able to adjust and let the kids be who they are.”