When Bryan Merritt left the Chickasha boys' basketball program, the existence of that void hurt more knowing it was vacated by one of the town's native sons.
So followers of the program should be happy to know it's been filled by another.
"I played here and grew up here," said Nathan Pennypacker, who was confirmed as the new boys' basketball head coach last week. "I managed to be on a pretty good team that went to a few state tournaments. I also coached with Merritt for one year, but I decided to go to another school to, not necessarily do it my way, but just to seek a different opportunity and go on a different path."
That different path was at Pioneer Public School, where he coached boys and girls basketball from 2011 to this year. Before that, he assisted Merritt in 2010, fresh out of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma with a health and physical education degree he received in April of that year.
His past was a major factor in his hiring, Athletic Director Yohance Brown said, as he was selected from "several applicants from throughout the state.
"Getting that fit in the program is more important than anything to me, because success at other programs may not translate to success at Chickasha," Brown said. "He's a Chickasha kid who grew up in this town and came through this program during a period when it was very successful. We felt like he had the full gamut of what we wanted in a head coach."
As a young coach, Pennypacker has the ability to relate to more easily relate to players, which is important for the type of program he desires.
"We're going to come in and work hard every day, but I want it to be a fun environment," Pennypacker said. "If you're not having fun with what you're doing, it's not going to be something you want to do."