When the Fitch boys basketball team starts the 2011/2012 season this fall it will do so with a new head coach.
On April 5, it was announced that Jason Baker has resigned from the head coaching position after two seasons as bench boss. Over those two seasons the Falcons struggled to compete in the Federal League going winless in that rugged conference and winning just six games total. The basketball program never really seemed to improve over that two season stretch and with a move to the All American Conference on the horizon for the Falcon cagers next season, a totally new path may have been needed. Austintown schools Superintendent Vince Colaluca stressed, however, that the decision to defect from the program was made solely by Baker.
“Jason Baker has decided to resign,” said Colaluca in a phone conversation on Wednesday. “We thanked him and supported him in everything he did. He did a nice job with the kids. We will now go in a different direction for basketball.”
While the basketball team will be taking a new route, there will be a familiar one in the elementary classroom. Baker, who teaches elementary physical education, will remain as an instructor. That fact was very important to Colaluca.
“(Baker) will be staying on as a teacher,” the superintendent said, “and that is great because he is a high-quality teacher. We stress education first (in Austintown) and we are thankful to have Jason.”
If the Fitch family can find the right head coach to lead its basketball boys into a new venture it will consider itself thankful as well. A committee made up of various administrators and residents of Austintown has been formed to hire the right person. The job has been posted internally with a deadline set of April 13. After that point, the job will be open to all potential outside applicants. There is an Austintown school board meeting scheduled for Monday, April 25. Colaluca hopes to have a new coach decided upon by that date so that person can be presented to the school board for acceptance. It may seem as if this time frame is rather fast, but Colaluca deemed it necessary.
“Our kids put a lot of time in during the offseason so we must have their coach in place to work with them,” he said. “We will try to move as quickly as possible.”
Baker moved quickly through the coaching ranks starting as the head scout at Division III Solon in 2002. It took a short time for him to ascend from the Division III level to Division I Fitch and the mighty Federal League. When Baker applied for the Falcons’ job he was one of 27 applicants. That number could be about the same this time around. Qualifications and criteria for the job can be found on the Fitch website.