Ron Moschella recorded his 400th coaching victorySaturday at Boardman.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- The 51-year old man walked slowly out of the locker room and was immediately greeted with half a dozen handshakes.
Ron Moschella then took a deep breath, wiped his face and smiled.
"This means so much to me," the Boardman High girls basketball coach said after winning his 400th game Saturday night. "But coaches don't win games, kids win games."
If you talk to those "kids," you would discover there is more to Moschella than his reputation.
"He's more than my basketball coach -- he's my friend," said senior Ashlee Russo. "He doesn't just teach me about basketball, he helps me with life's problems. I know he's there for me no matter what."
Overtime win: After Saturday's game -- a 52-49 overtime victory over Hudson -- Moschella was tackled by his team and sent tumbling to the floor.
"All anyone sees is him yelling," said Meagan Murray, Boardman's other senior. "They don't see what he does in practice and at camps and in the locker room. They don't see the team dinners he has at his house. He takes care of us.
"This couldn't have happened to a better coach."
Moschella played basketball for Ursuline in high school -- "I wasn't a very good basketball player," he said -- before earning his bachelor's degree from Kent State and his master's from Youngstown State.
He was baseball coach at Howland from 1972-78, then came to Boardman where he coached girls golf and assisted then-girls basketball coach Denise Gorski. When Gorski chose to coach the track and field team, Moschella was promoted to head coach for the 1980-81 season.
When it began: The Spartans went 4-16 that first season. Boardman went 14-7 in his second season, and Moschella -- who has a career mark of 400-99 (.802) in 21 seasons -- has been winning ever since.
"This was really special," said junior Jen Hlebovy, whose sister Celeste holds Boardman's career scoring mark. "This is something our team can look back on and know we shared it with him."
Moschella's style brings out Boardman's best, Hlebovy said.
"A lot of people just come to see him yell," she said. "He only yells because he knows how good we can play."
"He really motivates us to play harder," Russo said. "I've been through a lot this season with my grandpa dying and some injuries and he's always been there for me. This was special. We're proud of him."
Sophomore Brittany Durkin, who hit two free throws to seal Saturday's win over Hudson, said she was happy to share in the milestone.
But the Spartans have a bigger goal.
"We want to be his first team to win state," she said. "This is just the start."