Washburn women’s basketball head coach Ron McHenry announced his retirement on Tuesday, March 8. McHenry is the winningest coach in program history and holds a 490-180 record in his 22 seasons at Washburn.
“It has been a great run here at Washburn,” said McHenry. “For over half my lifetime, Washburn has been the place I have gone to work and not too many of those days felt like work. I’m very blessed to have played, coached, and now retired from Washburn University.”
McHenry led the Washburn Lady Blues to an NCAA Division II National Championship title in 2005, the first NCAA national championship for Washburn athletics in any sport. He won eight MIAA regular season titles and seven MIAA tournament championships during his tenure. He was also a four-time MIAA Coach of the Year and a two-time region Coach of the Year.
“Coach McHenry was one of my first hires at Washburn and one of my best,” said Washburn Athletic Director Loren Ferré. “Obviously, his record and accomplishments verify that but he was much more than that. I had the opportunity to have an office next to Coach McHenry for years and he has been a confidant and friend. Through the years I looked to him for advice and direction. I have never been at Washburn without Coach being here, so this will be strange but I know he will never be far away. A true Ichabod, I wish him all the best as he enters this new chapter in his life.”
McHenry coached nine different players to 21 All-America awards as well as the 2006 WBCA National Player of the Year, Jennifer Harris. He’s coached one NCAA South Central Region player of the year, six MIAA most valuable players, five MIAA defensive players of the year, 41 all-conference selections, and 84 MIAA Academic Honor Roll members.
The longtime head coach is among the top coaches in the NCAA as he concluded the 2021-22 campaign ranked 16th all-time in career winning percentage as well as 18th in career wins among active DII coaches. During the 2016-17 season, McHenry reached a personal milestone as he earned his 400th career victory at Northeastern State on Jan. 12 with a 67-48 victory. As result, he became the fastest coach in NCAA Division II women’s basketball history to reach the milestone, doing so in just 512 games, while becoming just the 23rd individual to accomplish the feat.
On Dec. 18, 2018 against Embry-Riddle, McHenry captured his 432nd victory to pass Patty Dick as the winningest head coach of the Washburn women’s basketball program.
McHenry was named the fifth Washburn head coach in program history on May 8, 2000 and quickly started building a powerhouse. After going 13-14 in his first year, he went a combined 175-23 over the next six seasons with six NCAA tournament appearances, eight combined MIAA titles between regular season and tournament, and a national championship.
He guided his team to an NCAA winning streak record as the 2004-05 team won their final 19 games to claim the national championship and carried their momentum into the following year. The Lady Blues finished the 2005-06 regular season with a perfect 27-0 record and swept through the MIAA postseason tournament and first two rounds of the NCAA South Central Region tournament. They then fell in overtime in the regional final to end the winning streak at 51 games and end the year with a 32-1 record. Although the record was broken by Ashland in the 2017-18 season, Washburn’s streak still ranks second in Division II women’s basketball.
McHenry has spent nearly four decades at Washburn devoting time as a student-athlete, assistant men’s basketball coach, head golf coach, department academic advisor, and the head women’s basketball coach.
He started on the Washburn men’s basketball team during the 1983-84 season and became a graduate assistant for his former team the following year. After a short stint as the boy’s head coach at Perry High School, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant for the men’s basketball team under head coach Bob Chipman for 11 seasons.
McHenry and his wife, Mischa, have three children – Dani, Sami, and Ronnie, who all have deep ties to Washburn. McHenry’s daughters both played basketball and volleyball at Washburn. Ronnie was a member of the Washburn golf team (2012-16) and was named the Ichabods’ head coach during the summer of 2021.
A nation-wide search for the program’s next head coach will get underway.