Len Melvin has been tabbed to guide the Hays High girls basketball team, looking to bring stability to a program that is set for its fourth head coach in four years.

Melvin will be a familiar face to many on the team. He was the Hays Middle School girls basketball coach from 2016-18.

“The deciding factor for me was real simple — these girls, they need somebody that’s going to be behind them,” said Melvin, whose hiring as HHS head girls basketball coach was approved by the school board on Monday night. “Honestly, that’s probably why I’m doing this — my heart hurts for these girls; four coaches in four years.

“I’m not going to proclaim to be the answer, but I know this: nobody’s going to care about them more than I am and the staff we put in place, and we’re going to do our best to win some games.”

Melvin was a coach and teacher at Hays High from 2000 to 2008, helping coach several different sports, including football, golf and softball. He took a break from coaching to start a family and grow a business. Melvin and his wife, Summer, own Hays Academy Hair and Design.

He began coaching a traveling team when his oldest daughter started playing sports. He later coached the HMS girls team for three years before taking another break from coaching when his daughter entered high school.

Melvin coached several of the players when they were younger.

“I hope it puts the girls in a position of a little bit of comfort,” Melvin said. “It’s going to be important to build our culture. I want them to feel comfortable being in the gym. ... I want the girls to be excited to be in the gym with somebody and just to know that they have a staff in place that just has a deep passion and care for each of them as people. I’m excited to work with them.”

He said the team’s identity will be defense.

“We will do absolutely everything in our power to disrupt a game,” he said. “I think offensively, you probably have to build a team around your offensive ability, and in high school, boys or girls, that will change pretty drastically year to year.

“I want the identity of the this team to be a team that will play tenacious defense from the tip to the final buzzer. If we want to win a game 30 to 28, I’m all for that. I want to be relentless defensively.”

The Indians went 6-15 last year in their lone season under Kyle Porter, who resigned to become girls basketball coach at Silver Lake.

Melvin said he sees potential in the returning players.

“I’ve watched a lot of them play a lot of basketball and I know that the potential is there to have a successful program,” Melvin said. “I think it’s time for us to develop a culture and for them to have trust in the coaching staff. I’m excited. I have absolutely no hesitation to step into the gym with the athletes they have, and we’re just going to go to work.”

Melvin, a Colby native and Fort Hays State grad, is eager to start interacting with team, but a face-to-face meeting with the players is on hold because of guidelines concerning the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think that’s the thing I’m struggling with the most,” said Melvin, who expects to have a Zoom meeting with the team later this week. “I just want to be face to face with them and let them know I care about them. I’m going to do everything I can to help them learn about basketball and life. Conveying that through a video message is hard, I think. I’m just excited to be in front of them.”