Former Page HC brings championship pedigree & Navajo culture to Casteel

New Casteel Women's Basketball head coach, Ryan Whitehorse

Coming from the Reservation and coming from a 3A small school, not many people have this opportunity, so I was very humbled.”

Three-time state champion head coach at Page High School, Ryan Whitehorse, has earned his opportunity to lead Casteel Women’s Basketball.

“We have hired who we believe has everything we need to take us to the next level,” Casteel High School’s statement read. “Coach Whitehorse has an impressive resumé and career, as well as the recommendation of some of the best athletic directors and coaches in the sport.”

He climbed the ranks at Page before leading the Sand Devils to 117 wins and just 23 losses in five seasons as head coach.

After taking the past year to further his nursing career, he’s ready to return to the hardwood.

“I missed basketball,” Whitehorse said. “I missed being a coach…It was very exciting to see the gym, the offices, where the girls will be working out. It feels good to be back and it’s just more exciting for us as a coaching staff to get started.”

No matter what level of hoops he’s coaching, Whitehorse plans to stick to what he knows best.

“We’re still gonna play defense,” Whitehorse said. “We’re still gonna ball pressure baseline to baseline, we’re still gonna focus on the fundamentals of basketball, being disciplined, communicating. Doing all the little things that some teams may overlook.”

His method has shown results, which is why Whitehorse was recognized as Conference and Region Coach of the Year a combined seven times.

“I didn’t do it for the accolades or the coaching record,” Whitehorse said. “In the Navajo culture we’re taught to be very humble about what we do…we’re not taught to gloat on our accolades and our success. That’s something I hold in my heart.”

That combination of humility and dedication is part of what sets his programs apart.

“I hope to teach that to our group of girls,” Whitehorse said. “This is a different type of demographic that we’ll be coaching and a different style of basketball that they’ll be learning. I hope they’ll learn to appreciate and to learn those little things like being humble, being respectful, respecting your opponents, and respecting everything in life.”

That’s not to say he lacks competitive edge, though.

Quite the opposite.

“There’s things that I probably would never have done if it wasn’t for basketball,” Whitehorse said. “Getting ejected from games, this and that. That’s when my passion comes out in basketball. In a game it’s a different Ryan I guess you can say.”

His former Athletic Director made sure there’s no questioning his passion.

“The most detailed-oriented, driven person I have ever been around in the past 23 years,” Page High School’s AD said. “A no-brainer.”

In order to help with those details, Whitehorse plans on bringing over a few coaches from Page to join his staff with the Colts.

“I’m just trying to surround myself as much as I can with that culture because they understand what it takes to win a championship,” Whitehorse said. “They were sitting beside me when we won those state titles. We also know what it takes to lose a state title.”

And they know what it’s like to represent something bigger than themselves.

“It goes back to how we were raised…remembering where you come from,” Whitehorse said. “No matter how far you are from the Reservation, that’s your home. That’s where you were born and that’s where our ancestors lived and had their struggles hundred and hundreds of years ago. There’s people on the Reservation that don’t think this is possible or some people that don’t have this opportunity.”

His programs will gain a unique perspective on life in general.

“I want to take the girls up to a tournament that we have on the Res,” Whitehorse said. “Just for them to be exposed to that type of basketball cause living on the Res, it’s very hard, it’s very remote. We have to travel over an hour just to access things that people take for granted.”

As he joins Casteel Athletics, focusing on the student-athlete’s best interest will continue to be a focus for Whitehorse.

“His programs have produced an abundance of college level kids, throughout the four corner states and all across Arizona,” the statement read. “He has always held education to a high standard, and he repeatedly emphasized the importance during the process.”

For the time being, Whitehorse is putting together the 2022-23 Colts Women’s Hoops schedule, which includes player, parent, and booster meetings.