Comets usher in new era with Toohey at head coach

Ali Sami | The Chronicle

New Mason boys basketball coach Adam Toohey knows he has big shoes to fill. 

Longtime head coach Greg Richards stepped down after 27 seasons leading the Comets. Richards won 399 games during his Mason tenure including a district championship in 2017. Toohey admits that is a tough act to follow, and said he cannot replace the impact Richards had on the program.

“I can’t, the shoes are too big,” Toohey said. 

Toohey is familiar to MasonToohey, met Richards in 2009 when he was hired at Mason as an assistant football and softball coach, and an intervention specialist. 13 years later, Toohey is tabbed as the man to take over for Richards.

Before taking the Mason job, he coached at Tippecanoe High School where he compiled a 72-46 record over a five-year span from 2017 to 2022. 

Toohey believes Mason is the right place for him and his family to be, especially since he has experience working in the school district. “Mason to me is family. It really is,” Toohey said.

Toohey said Mason is a special job for him because the school has a long tradition of athletic success, including the basketball program that Richards led for over two decades.

“What attracted me is his longevity, and I really respect that,” Toohey said. “I think a lot of Mason’s coaches are like that.”

When Toohey took the job, he immediately prioritized building up the team’s off-the-court connections. Menker said that he has been impressed by Toohey’s effort to build relationships on and off the court.

“We have these meetings before every practice. And those meetings we talk a lot about relationships and our culture, and it’s nothing about actual basketball at all.” Menker said. “It’s more about our personal lives, and I think that’s really connected our team this year.”

Junior Jake Hanley, a two-year starter, said that he is enjoying Toohey’s emphasis on the players’ mental health.

“He does a lot of things that help the players. He has four core values that the team follows, care, compete, communication and passion.” Hanley said. “We do culture talks and small groups, kind of just getting as close with each other, leading to questions about our personal lives, school lives, and basketball lives. And on top of that, we do yoga, which was part of [Toohey’s] mental decompression while also getting ready for games.”

The team spent a lot of time off the court prior to the season including an overnight retreat and fall workouts and shootarounds. During this time, the team spent a lot of time talking about culture and named it “the brotherhood.” Junior Ben Menker believes these efforts have helped the players grow closer outside of the sport and have contributed to their chemistry in games. 

“The brotherhood really is something I enjoy and think it brings me closer to my teammates,” Menker said. “I truly think things like these help us win on and off the court.”

The impact of Richard’s influence is evident on Toohey and the players who started their high school basketball careers under the veteran coach. They still feel that the lessons learned from their former coach have helped them confidently embark on a new journey with their new coach who is also committed to helping young men develop as players on and off the court. 

Hanley believes coach Richards left the program in a great spot and is now in good hands with Toohey. 

“I think he shaped the program for what it is right now,” Hanley said. “He set the standard for what the program can and should be.”

The boy’s basketball team has started off their season 4-1 including out-of-conference wins against Dunbar and Springboro. They are currently tied for second in what should be a tightly contested Greater MiamI Conference this season. Menker said that the team is very grateful for the legacy Richards left on the program, and is excited to continue his success with Toohey.

“Richards has had a great impact on me and Toohey has already made a big impact on me with his short time here so far,” Menker said. “I hope Coach Richards enjoys his retirement just as much as I enjoyed playing for him, and I can’t wait for the success that is yet to come with Coach Toohey.”

Adam Toohey, hired on July 25, breaks a huddle with his players after a timeout in his third game as head coach for the Mason Comets against the Colerain Cardinals.

Photo by Lily Haller