NORTH CLARENDON — When he heard the Mill River girls basketball coaching job was open, Ryan Csizmesia jumped at the opportunity.

The connections Csizmesia has to the North Clarendon school are vast.

“I think we’ve had someone I’m related to going to Mill River or Wallingford (Mill River’s forerunner) since the 1950s,” he said.

Wednesday night, he began his own legacy at the school, as Csizmesia was named the next varsity girls basketball coach for the Minutemen, replacing Brad Rideout, who coached at the school for one season.

“I’m excited. I’ve really missed coaching since giving up the Proctor job a few years ago,” Csizmesia said.

Csizmesia is the cousin of the late Jason Smith, a former Mill River boys coach and father of new boys basketball coach Ben Smith. He is also cousins with Minutemen boys soccer player Cameron Smith’s father.

It’s extra special that Csizmesia and his first cousin once removed, Ben Smith, are both taking over Mill River programs at the same time.

“It’s really cool. I’m going to get in touch with him and we’ll hopefully get something going for the younger program to teach skills and fundamentals,” Csizmesia said.

“Hopefully, we can build both of our programs up together.”

Csizmesia was a standout athlete at Arlington, where he was a 1,000-point scorer for the Eagles. His father was also a longtime teacher and principal at the school.

He got into coaching after high school at the age of 19 and coached AAU basketball around Arlington. He also coached the middle school and junior varsity hoops for the Eagles.

Csizmesia went into the military and then started an apprentice program at General Electric, which brought him to the Rutland area.

He eventually became the girls basketball coach at Proctor, spending two seasons with the Phantoms, before giving up the job because he was working on a teaching license.

The situation he entered at Proctor isn’t all that different to the one he enters at Mill River, a younger squad looking to improve.

“I take the outlook of improving each and ever year and raising the bar,” Csizmesia said. “Proctor had lost some good players when I took over and we were able to improve and compete with anyone.”

He plans to quickly get up to speed on the potential roster he’ll have this winter as he gests acclimated to the role.

“I’m excited to coach everybody. We’re going to work to improve every day,” he said.

The Southern Vermont League recently came out with a division alignment for the upcoming season. The SVL placed Mill River in the Small School West Division, along with West Rutland, Proctor, Poultney, Long Trail and Arlington.

The game start date of Jan. 11 remains scheduled, but it’s possible that it could be moved back. Practices were supposed to begin on Nov. 30, but have been put on hold since Nov. 24.

It can be tough to prepare for a season with so much uncertainty, but Csizmesia will have his team ready.

“I’ll get them focused and let them know what my expectations are,” Csizmesia said. “We’ll do the best we can. It’s hard for (all schools) to prepare for it. Hopefully, they’re getting in the gym as much as they can, so we’ll be ready to go.”

If games are allowed to start by Jan. 11, the approved schedule has Mill River hosting defending Division IV co-champion Mid-Vermont Christian at 7 p.m. that night.

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Follow on Twitter: @AAucoin_RH

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