After taking nine Honeybee teams to the state playoffs in two stints as the head girls basketball coach at Stephenville High School, veteran coach Ron Berry is leaving for Class 2A Cisco.

Berry first coached at Stephenville from the 1981-82 season until 1987-88, leading six of seven teams to the state playoffs. He returned to SHS in 2004 and made three consecutive postseason appearances before missing the playoffs with a young roster in 2007-08.

“As you get along in your career, you look for new challenges,” said Berry, who takes with him a career record of 627 wins and only 279 losses. “That’s what I’m taking on is a new challenge.”

“That’s a great gain for Cisco, and certainly a loss for us here,” said Stephenville Athletics Director Joseph Gillespie. “He’s a great coach whose record speaks for itself. You don’t win 600 games without doing a lot of things right, and he’s certainly done that.”

Gillespie said the search for a replacement at Stephenville is only in the beginning stages.

“The job has been posted because we knew he was probably going to be leaving,” said Gillespie. “We have had some coaches show interest, but we certainly have not begun to form a search committee or do any interviews.”

During his first stint with SHS, Berry and the Bees reached the regional finals four times, and were defeated by eventual state champion Canyon twice in the area playoffs. Berry is quick to recall a two-point overtime loss to CHS during one of its championship seasons.

An early playoff date with another eventual state champ shortened the Bees’ stay in the postseason again during Berry’s second run at Stephenville, when they fell to FW Dunbar in the area round.

In 2007-08, the Honeybees finished with a record of 14-16, placing fifth in District 8-4A. Berry’s successor will inherit a team known for its youth and speed. Stephenville returns four starters, who will lead the program into a newly aligned 8-4A that includes schools from Mansfield and Arlington and rekindles an old rivalry with perennial power Granbury.

“I believe you should always leave a place in better condition than it was in when you got there,” said Berry. “I think the Stephenville program is certainly in better shape than it was before I came, and I’m sure it will be successful. The girls are going into another very competitive district, but they will be alright.”

After his first stint in Stephenville, Berry pioneered the Canyon Randall program that has since become a national power. Family concerns brought him closer to home after just one year, however, and he missed out on a state championship fueled by a group of sophomores who played in Berry’s program as eighth graders.

Following the 1988-89 season at Randall, Berry spent seven seasons at Weatherford, four at Edgewood and four at Hamilton, where he also served as athletics director.

Berry began his hunt for a new challenge by applying for four positions, and concluded it by turning down three offers, including one from Class 3A Vernon, to accept the Cisco job.

Berry said the Cisco offer attracted him because his wife, Rulene, was offered a position she believes will be exciting and challenging, as well. As Director of Team Leadership, she will work closely with students from the Texas Youth Commission Program.

Berry also said he is looking forward to working with student athletes who specialize in basketball.

“They don’t have a volleyball or soccer program, so I’ll get to see what I can do with some straight basketball kids,” Berry explained. “You have to love a new challenge. That’s what keeps you young.”