It may have taken 26 long years, but Mark D’Eramo can finally call himself a head football coach.
This past Monday, the Boardman Board of Education voted 5-0 to hire D’Eramo as the new head Spartan. D’Eramo was recommended to the board by Boardman Principal Tim Saxton. He will replace D.J. Ogilvie who left his alma mater after seven years to take the head coaching position at Lemon Bay High School in Sarasota, Fla.
Although D’Eramo may have a new title as head coach, he is certainly no stranger to the Boardman football family. He has spent the past 20 years roaming the Spartans’ sidelines in various capacities. That familiarity with the program was a huge reason why D’Eramo was promoted. It also didn’t hurt that he currently teaches biology/anatomy and physiology at Boardman and has gotten plenty of props from his peers in the past.
“We preferred our new coach to be in the building,” said Boardman Athletic Director Dave Smercansky via email. “Mark works well with the administration and faculty and is well respected by his colleagues.”
Two decades at a school may make one an elder statesman, but the young hearted 1981 graduate of Ursuline is as enthusiastic as anyone and can’t wait to have some of that enthusiasm rub off on Spartan Nation.
“I am thrilled,” said D’Eramo excitedly after the announcement became official. “I have always wanted to become a head coach. I love people and love to build relationships and help people. I can’t wait to get started.”
Before D’Eramo started his assistant coaching career at Boardman he was an assistant at Brookfield, Chardon and Austintown Fitch. Being an apprentice to such dignified coaches as Bob Doyle at Chardon and Dave Hartman at Fitch allowed D’Eramo to gain the knowledge necessary to eventually run his own team. He conceded that those coaches as well as Ogilvie helped him structure some of his own strategies.
“I took the best from each coach and put it to good use,” said D’Eramo. “Coach Ogilvie did a great job getting this program back on track now it’s time for us to step up.”
Stepping up with D’Eramo will be mostly the same exact assistant coaches that worked under Ogilvie. Boardman’s new boss stressed how vital it was to keep those same names on his coaching list.
“Continuity and consistency is important,” D’Eramo explained. “Most successful programs have a staff that is on the same page. Our identity will be similar (to what’s in been in recent years).”
The identity that the Spartans have made for themselves is one of an overachieving bunch who has a few stars sprinkled here and there. D’Eramo will expect to get the most out of his kids once two-a-day practices begin on Aug. 1 and will go to any means necessary to achieve greatness.
“I’m pretty intense in practice,” said D’Eramo chuckling. “We have some pretty good players who need to work hard and put forth a winning effort. I know I can build a good relationship with these kids.”
Making it easy for D’Eramo to communicate with his players is the fact that he is such a respected educator. The passion he shows in the science department should go a long way in helping him succeed on the gridiron.
“We looked at the kind of teacher he is in the classroom and he is outstanding,” bragged Smercansky. “Mark has great character, work ethic and integrity. His work ethic mirrors the athletic philosophy of the Boardman local schools.”
Coach D’Eramo agreed with his A.D. when discussing the love he has for leading a classroom full of students.
“I’m a teacher first,” he insisted. “I hope the love I have for teaching and to help other people is reflected by my team.”
The Spartans will get little love when they start league play in September. Playing in the ferocious Federal League certainly makes Boardman a big-time outfit, but it also makes things grueling each fall weekend. Boardman’s non league slate is daunting too so the new coach must work fast this offseason to prepare his bunch for what’s ahead.
“We have a lot to do in a short period of time,” D’Eramo said. “We have a challenging schedule playing Mooney, Benedictine and (Akron) Hoban then the Federal League games. It will be fun to play (that type of schedule).”
After all of those years of assisting other men, it will probably be just as much fun for D’Eramo to finally be the main man calling all the final plays.