YSU WOMEN'S BASKETBALL Hauger-Grzesk has insider's perspective
The final candidate interview is today with Ball State assistant Tisha Hill.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Every assistant coach has his or her dream job. For many it is at Duke, North Carolina, Tennessee or Connecticut.
For Liz Hauger-Grzesk, there has only been one dream coaching job that she ever wanted and it is in her hometown and at her alma mater.
Grzesk, a Boardman native, is one of four finalists for the women's basketball coaching position at Youngstown State, the school that she both played for and coached at over a period of nine years.
She seeks to replace the man she played for and coached with, Ed DiGregorio, who resigned last month.
"This is my dream job," said Grzesk. "It's in my hometown and it's my alma mater. Nobody wants this program to succeed more than I do.
"I feel that I've been prepared very well for the job," she added. "Coach D taught me to be a better player and then to be a better coach. I also learned a great deal last season working under Kevin Borseth, who many feel is one of the best women's Division I coaches in the country."
Hauger-Grzesk was an assistant to Borseth at Wisconsin-Green Bay last season. The Phoenix won the Horizon League championship and participated in the NCAA Tournament.
"When I came here today it was exciting to be back and I also brought with me a booklet that I've made up of my philosophy of coaching," she said.
She is married to former YSU assistant men's coach Gary Grzesk and when he accepted the job as assistant coach at UW-Green Bay, his alma mater, Liz followed. An opening happened at the same time on Borseth's staff and she was a natural to fill it.
"Gary is so supportive of my quest to get this position," she added. "We both have the same passion for basketball. He knows this is a great opportunity for me and he's willing to accept whatever happens."
The main question about Hauger-Grzesk is that she only has five years of coaching experience.
"When are you right?" she said. "People ask me if I'm ready to have a baby and I tell them I don't know but I am. Am I ready to be a head coach? Yes, I feel that I am."
Grzesk, who is expecting her first child in July, says that her strong point is her enthusiasm.
"I have a passion for coaching and an enthusiasm that is unmatched for the game along with the desire and the ability," she said.
"I think that all of this stems from people like Ron Moschella, Ed DiGregorio and Kevin Borseth, who helped make me what I am today," she added.
After Hauger-Grzesk graduated from YSU she spent a year in the public sector before, at the urging of former YSU football coach and athletic director Jim Tressel, she returned as a coach.
"We've been in touch since Coach DiGregorio resigned," she said. "I have great respect for Coach Tressel."
Having coached in the Horizon League for two seasons, Grzesk feels that she knows the league, its players and coaches well. She also feels that she knows the returning players at YSU.
"This program is not far off from being back in the hunt," she added. "It needs a little more enthusiasm, a little more hard work, but there are a lot of good returning players including 88 percent of the team's rebounding and 88 percent of the team's scoring returning and that's a lot to have back.
"I've learned a lot this past year and there are some things that I'd like to add to the program," she added. "I would build my team around the defense and play an aggressive and attacking game. You have to put something on the floor that is exciting and fun to watch."
When asked what was the toughest thing about Wednesday's interview and meeting with the university representatives, Hauger-Grzesk laughed.
"Being pregnant and trying to fit into this suit," she said. "It's been a very emotional day."
The final interview and press conference, with Ball State assistant coach Tisha Hill, was scheduled for today.