Sometimes dreams really do come true.
That is especially evident in the case of Boardman's Joe Ignazio. Ignazio, a lifelong Boardman resident and Boardman High School graduate, was named the head coach of the Spartans at a special school board meeting held Thursday, Jan. 31.
Ignazio was a two-time football letter winner at Boardman, and has spent the past nine seasons as an assistant coach specializing in both defensive backs and running backs. That is why becoming the head coach at his alma matter is something Ignazio has wanted to do for what seems like forever.
New Spartans head football coach Joe Ignazio
"It wasn't a hard decision for me to make," said the new coach over the phone. "It really is a dream job."
Ignazio is replacing Mark D'Eramo and will be Boardman's third head coach in four years. He will be inheriting a team that was 4-6 last season with just two wins in the Federal League only one year after winning the league title and advancing to the Division I playoffs. Since a lot of those same players will be a part of the Spartan squad in 2013, it will be easier for coach Ignazio to ignite his team in the fall.
"They know what it takes to compete and win," said Ignazio about his group of kids. "We need to build upon what we already have. I have a good rapport with them. Communication will be the key."
Communicating is something that comes easy to Ignazio. He is a science teacher in the Boardman school district so educating young people is certainly something Ignazio is used to. Since Ignazio is such a familiar face around Boardman, choosing him as head coach was a simple decision for the school board to make.
"It is always a plus when you can hire a quality person from your district," said Boardman Athletic Director Dave Smercansky via email. "(Joe) is a true Spartan who bleeds maroon and white. His work ethic and dedication as well as his values are his best attributes. He is an excellent communicator."
Smercansky's sentiments were straight from the heart, which is representative of the entire close-knit Boardman community. Whenever one of Boardman's own succeeds at something there is a supreme feeling of pride shared by all. As a devoted husband and father of two, Ignazio said he appreciated the hospitality he was afforded during the whole interview process.
"I felt very welcomed," he said warmly. "I felt right at home. Everyone made me feel like a family member. (Having such a family atmosphere) will be a great support system."
All of that support can go south quickly if the Spartans do not regain some of that 2011 magic. Although Ignazio is not certain what his offensive and defensive schemes will look like until after he assembles a coaching staff, he does know what his coaching philosophy will be.
"I'm an old SVC (Steel Valley Conference) player," said the coach. "I like to pound the football and have tough, hard-nosed, dedicated kids."
One way for Ignazio's athletes to morph into that type of player is to hit the weight room as soon as allowed. The holdover Spartans will have to adapt to having a new voice, but once the clanging and banging of free weights is shared a bond should be too. Coach Ignazio is not worried about his boys attacking this new challenge.
"I have a good group of kids," he said positively. "They'll embrace this change."
If Boardman's football team once again ascends to the top of the Federal League then everyone in Spartan Nation will be embracing Joe Ignazio as their new leading man. Now that is something that is certainly worth dreaming about.