Girls Basketball: Sacred Heart Cathedral hires LyRyan Russell as head coach

By Jeremy Balan

(Developing story)

Sacred Heart Cathedral’s new girls basketball coach may not be the Russell Irish faithful have been clamoring for, but he’s a Russell nonetheless, with plenty of ties to the school.

Sacred Heart announced the hiring of LyRyan Russell on Thursday. Russell will take over for Mike Carey, who resigned from the position in May after three seasons at the helm of the program.

Russell, who played for the Irish boys team and graduated from Sacred Heart in 1997, went on to play at the University of San Francisco and then played professionally in Germany.

Russell is the older brother of former SHC star girls basketball player Toni Russell, who won a state championship under legendary head coach Brian Harrigan in 1998. Many speculated that Toni, who went on to play at USF as well, would be on the short list of candidates for the Sacred Heart head coaching vacancy, but she appears to be staying with Harrigan as an assistant at St. Francis.

“We are excited to have LyRyan return to his alma mater and are confident that he will continue the legacy of excellence of the SHC [girls] basketball program,” Sacred Heart Cathedral athletic director JoAnn Momono said in a press release from the school.

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  1. Ari Gold says:

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE this choice. LyRyan knows the game inside and out. Watch him referee! Personally I thought he would go far if he wanted to make refereeing a profession. He was an excellent basketball player but an even better person because his unselfishness as a basketball player was a branch from his unselfishness as a person. And he gets that from his dad Rudy.

    Congrats LyRyan on this new challenge. Go Irish.

  2. Don L. says:

    LeRyan reffed for a few years with our group. Surprised he would take on a coaching gig but good luck to him! At least he’ll be nice to the refs…hahahaha

  3. T&F Coach says:

    Great Choice

  4. JJ says:

    Not a big fan of SHC girls basketball, but I think they are heading in the right direction selecting a male figure to lead a young group of girls. Much success, except when they play SI.

    • Irishman says:

      JJ, that was a strange comment. For one thing, Russell is replacing a male coach who replaced a male coach. It’s been decades since a woman coached the Irish girls hoops. And second, why couldn’t a woman coach a group of young women? I suppose this could be a case of missed-sarcasm on my part; if so, I apologize. But for instance Margi Beima seems to be doing just fine as a women coaching girls.

      All that said, I’m glad to have LyRyan aboard and look forward to the CCS defense this winter at Sacred Heart Cathedral, not Sacred Heart as the article says twice (whoops).

      • jbalan says:


        JJ has been talking about men coaching girls being the best system for a while. I don’t agree with him, but he’s gone over that topic before.

        As for your critique of our style of using “Sacred Heart” on second reference, we always use the full name of the school on first reference. It’s based on the common journalistic practice of stating the full name of a person, place or institution on first reference, then shortening the name on every following reference to make the article read easier by not bogging the reader down with unnecessary words. For example, it would be clumsy writing to write out “University of California, Berkeley” on every reference in every story, so we’ve figured out to shorten it to “Cal.”

        We are a publication that only covers San Francisco, no one is confusing “Sacred Heart” with Sacred Heart Prep down south or Convent of the Sacred Heart. In fact, we do the same thing with Convent and Lick-Wilmerding on second reference (“Convent” and “Lick”). We also don’t spell out the entire names of other schools on first or second reference, like Vasco Nunez de BALBOA High School, Philip & Sala BURTON High School, GALILEO Academy of Science & Technology, June JORDAN School for Equity, Abraham LINCOLN High School, James Russell LOWELL High School, Thurgood MARSHALL High School, John O’CONNELL High School, Raoul WALLENBERG High School, George WASHINGTON High School, San Francisco WALDORF High School, JEWISH COMMUNITY High School of the Bay, San Francisco UNIVERSITY High School, The URBAN School of San Francisco and Saint (St.) Ignatius College Prep.

        In short, our style treats your school the same way we treat everyone else, except the only complaints I get about it are from Sacred Heart. It’s our style, and I’ve explained this to many faculty and staff at the school who have complained. You are free to disagree with it, but continuing to labor on the point in e-mails and comments is tiresome.

        Here is a link to a description of the practice. Although it only addresses the names of people, the same principles apply.

        … and, if you really want to be a stickler about it, you should request that the full name of the school, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, should be used.

      • Mickey Blue Eyes says:

        in the History of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, there has never been a female coach for the Girls’ Basketball Program. From 1988-90 Henry Cortez was coach, in Fall of 1990 Brian Harrigan took over until 2009, then Mike Carey for 2010-2012 and now LyRyan Russell. The last female to coach at this school would have been before the merger and that would have been eitehr Chris Lansing or Sue Elvandor in the mid 80s.

        On another note jbalan, the Sacred Heart References is actually a heated topic within the school community. MAny of the old Cathedral grads are offended whedn papers shorten to Sacred Heart. Many are not as offended when they see SHCP. that could be a better shorter version of the school reference than Sacred Heart.

        • jbalan says:

          I understand why it’s a heated topic, but that’s why we call it “Sacred Heart Cathedral” 100 percent of the time on first reference. From then, on second reference, we use the most common usage in the name. I’m not sure if the Wilmerding family gets irritated when we call the school “Lick” on second reference, but I haven’t heard from them. I have heard, however, Cal-Hi Sports (the TV show) call the school “Cathedral” for short, which I find interesting, but it’s the same principle. They’ve just chosen to use the other name, because it would be unnecessary and clumsy for them to say “Sacred Heart Cathedral” every time they say the school’s name in a highlight.

          I’m not a big fan of using acronyms in articles, and I make a big effort to limit that even for SI (although it does happen occasionally), but I have made it a common practice to use “SHC” in headlines, instead of “Sacred Heart.”

          • GCJ 01 says:

            With all of the more important things in the world to focus on, the kind folks at SHC choose to focus on how their school’s name is referenced. Wow! I said it all through football season, and this proves my point. The wonderful people at SHC complain and whine way too much. Many people know that Sacred Heart and Cathedral High Schools merged back in the 80’s. Most of us also know that when we say Sacred Heart, we’re referring to SHC. So will the kind folks at SHC leave this topic alone? Get over it and focus on the more pressing issues in life.

            With this type of senseless complaining, I can now see why Coach Carey decided to leave in the first place. I can only imagine what nonsense he had to endure.

            JB, maybe you should go to SHC and teach a class on journalism so that they can stop bothering you (and all of us) with such a useless and pointless subject matter. Like you said, you don’t hear those assiciated with Lick-Wilmerding complaining!

            • jbalan says:

              Strangely enough, I’m actually going to speak to a summer media class at the school this afternoon. I would say, however, that you connecting Mike Carey to all of this is a bit of apples and oranges.

              • GCJ 01 says:

                I understand your comment regarding my use of Coach Carey, but I mentioned him to make a point. Hopefully you assisted the media class in informing their alum and current student body to put to rest the naming issue.

            • IC Stars says:

              If it doesn’t affect you, ignore it.

              • Irishman says:

                It’s not entirely a matter of recognition (Convent vs. Sacred Heart vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral). It’s also a matter of respect for Cathedral High School, which is actually the older school (between SH and Cathedral), and for the Daughters of Charity (who ran Cathedral and who are a huge financial reason for why the school is able to exist). Dropping “Cathedral” throws 160 years of Cathedral High School history and the accomplishments and contributions of those alumnae out the window. And furthermore “Sacred Heart” is not the name of our school, just like USC couldn’t shorten it’s name from “Southern Cal” to “Cal.” All those other abbreviated names you mention are fine because those schools recognize those nicknames or at the very least, are OK with them.

                It is a bit clumsy, as Jeremy mentioned, but that’s the school’s name. I don’t think it’s up to individual writers and media outlets to name the subjects about which they write. I think the admin, coaches, parents, alumni, students and student-athletes really, genuinely appreciate the coverage that SanFranPreps provides for Irish athletics. But I think asking that the media uses their actual name isn’t asking for much.

              • jbalan says:

                I have nothing left to add to this conversation. We will continue to go by the established journalistic practice of full name on first reference and the shortened name on second reference.

                Those will be my final words on the subject. If you don’t agree with our policy, your objections have certainly been noted, we just happen to disagree on this topic.

              • IC Stars says:

                The thing that gets me is those Cal-Hi TV types that call it “Cathedral”…. The other is calling De La Salle “Day Lah”.

              • ARHS Stats says:

                It looks to me like Cathedral had only 4 Championship teams before joining together with Sacred Heart to form Sacred Heart Cathedral.

                While Sacred Heart had about 30 Championship teams in that time.

                Sacred Heart Cathedral has 18 Championship teams, since they joined together.

                NOTE: This is referring to League Championships. SHC has more CCS Championships, since joining together, about 32.

                So I think Sacred Heart had more of a athletic history than Cathedral did.

  5. al says:


    That may be the greatest response in the history of responses. Just plain awesome.

  6. Crusader 88 says:

    @IC Stars-
    The NCBOA holds their training classes in September for new members. Perhaps you can sign up and put your time out there on the court to show everyone how to properly officiate.

    On a happier note, congratulations to LyRyan on being named the new coach. He is a quality young man.

    • IC Stars says:

      If I did, there would be no make-up calls, bad calls, let-’em-play-fouls and travels would be travels. Other than that, I concur with your assessment on LyRyan Russell. Now if the parents would stay off his back he can get something positive done.

  7. J.sag says:

    Don’t know if Marshall’s found a coach for their Varsity football.

  8. Basketball Fan says:

    Congratulations to LyRyan. A great young man from a “committed to basketball” family. I look forward to seeing him coach. Let’s hope he has great support from the administration as he navigates the endless individual needs of the parents.
    Great call on Toni’s part too – I look forward to seeing her grow in her coaching capabilities and soon take over a head coach position at a school that will appreciate her coaching style.
    And about all the talk about SHCP, SHC, SH, Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep: Let’s play ball.

    • IC Stars says:

      You forgot Sacred Heart College and Sacred Heart College High School. That should cover it.

      • Basketball Fan says:

        Question: ClayK brought up a good question on the site. Why would a high school with SHCP’s reputation give a head coach’s job to someone with no high school experience on any level? I understand LyRyan has coached overseas (has he coached young women at all?) but where is the experience? Is it because of the ties to the city – Mission Rec? I am just wondering if anyone has any knowledge of why this played out the way it did.

        • IC Stars says:

          His Mission Rec ties could be a part of it but he still has a lot of experience from high school to Europe and back. I hope he gets a better break than the haters gave Mike Carey.

  9. WCAL Alum says:

    My gut tells me that although his high school coachin experience is non-existant, his vast experience, knowledge, and contacts within the local youth baseketball scene, experience coaching as an assistant in local women’s pro-am, and finally good repoire as an SHC alum, What is yet to be seen are the adjustments that need to be made in the highly competitive WCAL.

    It will take a few years to come to fuition based on the current depth of SI and Mitty, but it will come.

  10. JJ says:

    At least LyRyan Russell played basketball at basically every level except the NBA. There are some coaches at the pro and college level who never played the game that they coached. Did the Raiders former owner/coach/GM Al Davis play football? Let’s see what Russell can do in his 1st year before saying he’s a bad choice.

    • Basketball Fan says:

      No comment on LyRyan being a bad choice. I know his family and he is an a wonderful and dedicated young man to the sport. I think ClayK’s question(s) are valid and appreciate any information that gives us all some clarity to the choice.

  11. Wallenberg Grad says:

    Very happy for Lyryan and his new coaching position. I was a part of Wallenberg High School’s Basketball program this past year, and although he was very busy and unable to attend many games, he worked in Wallenberg’s career counseling department. I admire him for his athletic accolades, but more so for his dedication to helping high school kids like myself, attain college resources. Congratulations to him and his family

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