RICHMOND, Ind. – A local high school was dealt another devastating blow Friday, with the unexpected death of its girls basketball coach.
Richmond High School girls basketball head coach Casey Pohlenz was found dead at his home on North Drive around 5 p.m. Friday. He was discovered during a welfare check after he missed the team’s practice and was unresponsive to messages left on his phone.
Wayne County Coroner Ron Stevens confirmed Pohlenz’s death Friday evening, though he declined to comment on a potential cause of death for the 43-year-old. An autopsy is expected to be conducted at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office in Dayton, Ohio over the weekend, he said.
“I won’t be able to comment on the cause until the procedure is complete,” Stevens said. “But I can confirm family has been notified.”
Pohlenz, who also taught social studies at the high school, coached the girls basketball program for 10 years, and amassed 99 wins through the end of the 2017-2018 season.
The team’s 11-13 season was cut short with an opening round sectional tournament loss to Pendleton Heights.
Pohlenz’s best season with the Lady Red Devils came in the 2014-2015 season, as the Wichita, Kansas native guided the team to a 20-8 record and the helped the program earn its first North Central Conference title since 2000, as well as a sectional title.
Pohlenz was previously a boys basketball coach in Colorado for two years before being hired to coach Richmond’s girls basketball team, and told the Palladium-Item in January he was fortunate to have landed the job after the stint out West.
“I ticked God off and he didn’t want to take me, so he sent me to small-town Colorado for two years,” he joked. “I paid my penance and I got to come here to Basketball Heaven.”
When he first arrived in Richmond ahead of the 2008-2009 season, Pohlenz also enrolled in Earlham College’s Masters of Arts in Teaching Program.
Richmond Athletic Director Larry Cochren said in a statement, sent by text message to the Pal Item, he was devastated by the news of the coach’s death.
”We as a school community are devastated and I personally am devastated,” the statement said. “He had a great impact on all of our students and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and our community.”
Richmond Community Schools Supt. Todd Terrill in a statement acknowledged Pohlenz’s death “with deep sorrow,” and offered condolences to the friends, family and members of the high school community.
Our thoughts and prayers are with (Pohlenz’s) family during this difficult time,” he said, in part. “We also offer condolences to all the Richmond High School students, girls basketball players, teachers and support staff.”
Terrill’s statement also encouraged parents to help their children cope with the loss — the third death to impact the high school this week — and called for the school community to “pull together.”
“If you have any concerns about your child’s reaction to this loss, please contact RHS and we’ll connect your child to additional support services,” he said. “Let’s pull together as a community to help each other through this very difficult period.”
On Monday, 15-year-old freshman Diante Taylor drowned at the Natural Springs quarry in New Paris, Ohio while swimming with friends during a Memorial Day celebration.
Less than 12 hours later, early Tuesday morning, RHS senior Antwone-Tremell Carpenter, 18, was shot outside an apartment building in the 800 block of North 15th Street. He died a few hours later from his injuries, just two weeks before he was set to graduate.
Much like the deaths of Taylor and Carpenter, Pohlenz’s death sent shockwaves across local social media circles. Several former players and students posted about fond memories of Pohlenz and the impact he made on their educational and basketball experiences.