Arthur Cedeno and Shari Gear are leaving the Fort Myers girls basketball program after a state championship run. The duo were Green Wave head coach Chad Terrell’s lead assistants.
Cedeno was hired to take over the program at Lehigh following the departure of Troy Whitehurst, while Gear was tabbed as Island Coast’s successor to Jerry Ellis.
“All three of us, it was like having three head coaches on Fort Myers last year,” Gear said. “So we were all lucky in that aspect. And it was great to be a part of that.”
Cedeno, an ESL teacher at Lehigh who joined Terrell at Fort Myers in 2015-16, will have his first opportunity to lead a program. He inherits a team that won 19 games last season and reached the Region 6A-3 postseason.
“My heart has always been in Lehigh,” Cedeno said. “So I knew if I had the opportunity, I felt confident and ready for it.”
A New Jersey native who has coached basketball for 15 seasons, Cedeno said what precipitated the move was a longing to be closer to his wife and kids. He was an assistant formerly with Lehigh for seven seasons and three with Estero.
“We’re in a tough district,” Cedeno said. “The challenge is going to be there. But I’m going in with the mindset of, let’s try to get in there and put in that hard work and let’s get what we want to get, a state championship.”
Cedeno, 37, helped transform the Green Wave defense into a power in 2016. He brings to Lehigh a great sense of instruction, high IQ and play-calling ability. He will join a program that’s won 79 games over the past four seasons.
“I definitely feel I can motivate the kids,” he said. “I’m constantly reading and trying to learn the game of basketball. That’s where my passion is. That’s what I learned from the girls at Fort Myers, too. They’re all gym rats.”
Gear, meanwhile, will inherit a strong program at Island Coast under the only coach the school has ever known. Ellis went 98-102 in eight seasons, but was 40-15 over his past two years with the Gators and won 20 games in back-to-back campaigns.
Gear, 48, previously coached the Green Wave to their first district championship in over a decade in 2011-12 before taking time off to help raise a family. The Georgia native is a 16-year veteran coach — 15 seasons as a head coach — who was a four-year starting point guard for Coker College in the early 90s.
“I’m excited to get back in and do my own thing,” she said. “When your mindset is that of a head coach, it’s hard to change that as an assistant.”
Gear added: “What I miss most is actually coaching the game. To me that’s the fun stuff. That’s what I want to do. I want to get back to working with kids 1-on-1 and coaching games and making a difference.”
She hopes to continue building on the strong tradition that Ellis left.
“They’ve had a great program,” She said. “My thing is, I want to build upon what’s already there. They have great players and I want to take it forward and go from there as far as we can go.”