Building a Winning Culture: Ryan McGowan Is Making His Mark at Pioneer Charter School of Science

Ryan McGowan had been a successful assistant coach for several seasons before becoming the boys basketball head coach at the Pioneer Charter School of Science of Everett in 2017.

Now in his fifth season, McGowan and his team are riding high after defeating Pioneer Charter of Science 2 of Saugus, 40-37, in the annual Battle of the Atoms game.

“It was a defensive battle,” said McGowan. “We were down by eight at halftime and came out on a 13-0 run to start the third quarter. We led by six going into the fourth quarter and made some key free throws down the stretch. Quenton Ihegie hit two free throws to ice the game.”

The team received the coveted Isotopes Trophy following its win over the Saugus school.

Senior captains Quenton Ihegie of Malden and Manav Bector of Everett have been the leading scorers this season. Ihegie is averaging 18 points and six rebounds per game. Bector is averaging 12 points and eight rebounds per game. Also making big contributions to the team are Harryns Cantave and five-senior guard Cesar Guerrero of Everett, senior guards Ayoola Ao and CJ Lainez of Revere, and sophomore Nizar Kaddoum, a second-year starter whose two older brothers has played basketball for Pioneer.

Three years ago, McGowan’s Panthers posted a 14-6 record and advanced two rounds in the Charter School State Tournament. One of the players on that team later matriculated at Brown University.

“All the guys that have participated in  my program have all gone on to college, including BU, UMass/Amhert, Brown, and Wentworth,” said McGowan. “Our assistant coach and former captain, Abdullah Virk, is a 2020 Pioneer graduate and a sophomore at UMass/Lowell. He’s been an amazing addition to our staff. He’s been a great liaison between me and the players. He has a great basketball mind.”

 A graduate of Holy Cross

McGowan played high school basketball at Bishop Feehan High School in Feehan. Long-time basketball fans will recognize the McGowan family name. Ryan’s younger brother, Patrick McGowan, was a 1,000-point basketball scorer, a Herald Dream Teamer, a three-year standout quarterback at North Attleboro High School and later became a 1,000-point scorer at Colby College. His middle brother, Justin, also excelled in high school sports.

“My brother Pat was a true, natural athlete, competitor, and quiet leader, while I was the kind of player who worked hard and got the most out of my athletic ability,” said Ryan. “I really enjoyed watching Pat play. I’m five years older than he is, but I learned a lot from watching him play basketball.”

Ryan attended the College of the Holy Cross (Class of 2000) where he was the team manager for women’s basketball for three seasons.

He became a teacher and an assistant girls basketball coach at Bishop Feehan. He then received his Master’s degree in Education Administration from Boston College and began teaching in Everett. He is in his 16th year in the Everett schools. He has taught at the Madeline English School and served as dean of students at Everett School. He is currently the head of the English Language Arts Department at Everett High School.

He has also been a coach at Brookline, Saugus, and Winthrop, where he was the interim head coach in 2016. He became head coach of the PCCS boys basketball program one year later.

“My wife (Jennifer) is an ESL teacher at the Whittier School,” said Ryan. “Our children go to Everett schools. So, for me to have a coaching job right in the city, working with Everett kids, being five minutes from my house – it’s a perfect fit. We have awesome kids at Pioneer. I have a great athletic director who gives us a lot of support. The parents are very supportive.”

McGowan is excited about the future of the Pioneer boys basketball program. “We have a great middle school coach, Rico Tayag, who’s from Everett. We have a great group of freshman players. We’re starting to get some consistency and continuity. We’re instilling in our players a sense of values and a culture in the program. The one thing I’m most proud of is that in five years, we’ve been able to build a winning culture. Our players come to practice every day, work hard, and improve. I preach basketball  as being like another class. There’s a lot of learning involved. I’ve always looked at coaching as an extension of teaching. We talk about strategy, thought process, and how we make decisions on the court. Basketball is about learning, being smart, and playing smart, and using your brain to maximize your game.”

That McGowan Philosophy is producing excellent results at Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett.

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