Late last year, legendary Boardman girls basketball head coach Ron Moschella stepped down from his post citing health concerns.
Apparently those worries no longer exist because Moschella has decided to take on a new challenge. On May 8, the Columbiana school board accepted the recommendation of school Superintendent Don Mook and committee for Moschella to become the new girls hoops leader at the school.
Coach Moschella spent 31 seasons on the bench at Boardman and although he collected 546 wins over that span, he is almost as famous for his sideline antics as he is for his coaching acumen. Columbiana Athletic Director Bob Spaite was not concerned with any of those histrionics he was just interested in Moschella's coaching history.
"I have great respect for him," said Spaite over the phone. "He's a veteran coach and he knows how to act."
Coach Spaite is quite the animated figure himself on Friday nights as Columbiana's head football coach, but thinks he may be the runner up to his new girls' hoops coach.
"(With Moschella at the school) I'm going to look like Jim Tressel now," Spaite said chuckling.
All joking aside, coach Moschella is certainly known in the area as a winner. Moschella's teams have totaled 23 league titles, 14 district championships, five regional final appearances and two trips to the Final Four. Personally, Moschella was named Ohio High School Coach of the Year in 2001, Northeastern Ohio Coach of the Year five times and Mahoning County Coach of the Year an astronomical 23 times. Still, he stepped down due to illness after the Lady Spartans lost a game on Dec. 20. According to the person who recommended him for the coaching job, Moschella's ailments are a thing of the past.
"Certainly health was a problem, but he assured us he was doing better and he wanted to coach," said Mook a few hours before the school board meeting where Moschella was introduced as coach. "It was a difficult decision for him to leave Boardman. He comes with an extensive background and brings a wealth of knowledge."
Coach Spaite was well aware of Moschella's health scare too, but has no concern that it will creep up again in his Columbiana coaching career.
"I have no worries about his health," said Spaite confidently. "He's assured us he is ready to go. Anytime you can get a coach with his credentials to jump from a Division I school to a Division IV school it is a great thing."
Coach Moschella will replace Jeff Hammond who left Columbiana in a "mutual agreement," according to Spaite. A group consisting of Spaite, school Principal Dan Szolek and members of the school board formed to find the new girls' mentor shortly after Hammond's departure. Moschella made his interest known and was considered the best of four final candidates. Although Moschella is retired from teaching he will most likely apply to be a substitute in the Columbiana school district according to Mook, which should act as a positive event.
"That will be a good way for him to get to know the kids," Mook mentioned. "He brings such a passion with him from Boardman and has taken a great approach (to this new job). He has already set up meetings with some of the parents."
Winning over the parents is one thing, but can this longtime leader be able to completely start over with an entirely new batch of student/athletes? The superintendent surely thinks so.
"The kids here are fantastic," Mook said proudly. "They'll adapt to him."
No doubt coach Moschella will adapt to his new team quickly too. When that happens the Lady Clippers will most likely need to start adapting to becoming an annual girls basketball winner.