By Tom Williams
Five months after resigning as Boardman High’s girls basketball coach for health reasons, Ron Moschella is feeling well enough to return to coaching.
This time, it will be for Columbiana. And the Clippers are happy to have him.
Tuesday, the Columbiana Board of Education approved the 31-year veteran with 573 victories to succeed Jeff Hammond, whose team went 6-15 last season.
“When you look for a coach, you can’t imagine getting someone with 570-plus wins,” Columbiana superintendent Donald Mook said. “Someone with his credentials doesn’t come along very often. He brings a lot to the team.”
Through the 2010-11 season, Moschella is the ninth-winningest coach in Ohio girls basketball and guided the Spartans to state appearances in 2005 and 2008, plus many conference and district titles.
“I just missed it so much,” said Moschella who has been battling bladder cancer since December.
When Moschella’s illness was diagnosed, Jeff Hammerton took over the Spartans program. Moschella said he never considered taking a leave of absence.
“I thought it was best that I resign,” Moschella said. “I didn’t think [a leave] would be fair.”
Mook, a Boardman High graduate, said Moschella’s willingness to not take a leave is something to cherish.
“That says a lot about a man’s character,” Mook said. “I know the folks in Boardman are going to miss him.”
Tony Roncone, a board member whose daughter Lindsey will be a senior basketball player, said Moschella’s reputation for being demanding is what the program needs.
“We’re looking for discipline and Ron Moschella brings an excellent record,” Roncone said. “We had a parent meeting and my wife [Kathy] said, ‘I don’t know basketball, but I know a great guy when I meet one.’
“So there is an excitement in the air,” Roncone said. “He’s passionate.”
Watching from the stands was one of the hardest things Moschella endured.
“It tore my heart out — I just felt so close to those kids,” Moschella said, “A lot of them started basketball with me.”
After a rough two months, his medical condition stabilized.
“I got better in February, but I didn’t think I would ever coach again,” Moschella said.
He’s received medical clearance “as long as my numbers stay in a good range.
“I wasn’t happy sitting at home,” Moschella said. “My wife [Judy] and daughters say they see a different person [now].”
Going from the Mahoning Valley’s elite program to a Division IV school “will be a challenge,” Moschella said.
“They have a nice facility and an excellent school rating,” Moschella said of Columbiana. “I like the atmosphere, but it’s way different.
“Obviously, I will miss Boardman, but I intend to go to as many of their Saturday games as I can. Those kids mean a lot to me, as do the coaches. I’m still rooting for them.”