Aaron Rymer has a lofty goal in mind for his future, and each day, he keeps climbing in that direction.
The former Morristown East and Walters State basketball player, who recently earned his bachelor’s degree at East Tennessee State University while working as a student manager with the women’s basketball program, was named a graduate assistant at Purdue University in the spring, where he is now working with the Boilermakers’ women’s program and Coach Sharon Versyp.
All of this leads to Rymer eventually becoming a head coach one day, and if his hard work and dedication continue, that dream could become a reality, sooner rather than later.
“I’ve been very blessed with this opportunity and a lot of hard work, dedication and time has been put into receiving this opportunity,” Rymer said. “The coaching staff at Purdue has been phenomenal with the whole process, with going to the interview, having a chance to hang around a Division I program, one that won a national championship when Carolyn Peck was there. It means a lot to me to be able to have this opportunity and continue to progress towards where I want to be, which is be a Division I head basketball coach.
“I wouldn’t be in this position without the love and support of my family, especially my parents, Telford and Mona. They have been mine and my brother Cameron’s biggest supporters. I can’t thank them enough.”
Rymer spent three weeks at Purdue earlier in the summer working camps and preparing recruiting for the coaching staff before returning to West Lafayette, Indiana this week. He said those three weeks, along with working for ETSU coach Brittney Ezell for two seasons, were invaluable in his preparation for the full-time experience on the job now.
“I was able to go up there for three weeks this summer, and it was a great learning experience,” Rymer said. “I got to see what all goes on outside of practices and just the basketball aspect of it. Seeing what goes into recruiting, planning and how they go about their work every single day, it’s been a tremendous experience.
“Preparing for the interview, Coach Ezell kind of took me through some of the things they were going to ask me. I was able to get some knowledge from her, and I was able to put out my best performance in the interview.”
Rymer got to travel with the Bucs for two seasons and learn more and more about the game, absorbing each tidbit of information he could take in while working for the program and earning his degree.
“It was a really awesome experience at ETSU,” Rymer said. “I got to travel, see new gyms, watch a ton of basketball and learn a lot. Every day in practice, it wasn’t just learning the Xs and Os of basketball but how to interact with players and each other and also what it takes to be a really good team. That is something I will carry with me the rest of my career.
“They gave me a lot of responsibilities at ETSU. I was lucky enough to be able to fill out my own scouting reports, break down film and do a lot of things that maybe regular students don’t get to do when they get those positions.”
Rymer loves to listen and learn from his superiors, going all the way back to his playing career. After spending time learning from Ezell and now working for Versyp and her staff while combining those lessons with what he learned from former Morristown East coach Ryan Collins, he is in a good position to advance in his career.
“Anytime I get the chance to learn from somebody, I want to take advantage of those opportunities,” Rymer said. “Being around Coach Ezell and now Coach Versyp and (Purdue assistant and former Vanderbilt head coach) Coach (Melanie) Balcomb, those are people I want to take every opportunity to learn from.
“Another coach who helped me tremendously was Coach Collins. Being around him, I learned a new style of basketball, and that was my biggest jump in gaining knowledge from a head coach. I would put him right up there with anyone in the country in terms of teaching Xs and Os. He also taught me about the player-coach relationship, and that’s probably the most important thing before you take any other step in coaching. That was a tremendous year, and I’ll never take that for granted.”
Rymer was a talented player in high school and college, known more for his tenacious style of play and deadly accuracy from the 3-point arc. But knowing his limitations, mainly his height, he quickly was drawn more to being a coach instead of a player in his career.
“I realized I wanted to be a coach when I realized I wouldn’t be any taller than 5-foot-9,” Rymer said. “The NBA dreams flew out the window at that point. Sports are all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life. In elementary school for career day, I came in with an Xbox headset dressed as Urban Meyer. Even from a young age, I always wanted to be a coach. I enjoy teaching and sharing my knowledge. I knew if I dedicated my life and put in the effort, good things would happen for me one day, and that’s what has occurred so far. It’s been a fun ride so far.
“Ultimately in the future, I would like to be a full-time assistant coach for a Division I program in the next five years and hopefully a Division I head coach in 10 years. By putting in the work, even though I’d only be 32, I feel like I could prove I’m worthy of that position.”