By Joe Catullo
After the third game last season, Boardman High women’s basketball coach Ron Moschella became ill and could not lead the Spartans anymore.
“It was almost like I died,” Moschella said. “Cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, overweight problems. Name a disease, I have it.”
Moschella handed over the reigns to then-assistant coach Jeff Hammerton. Moschella left Boardman with 31 years experience and 546 wins. The Spartans originally asked Moschella to take a leave of absence, but he didn’t comply.
“I didn’t think it was fair to the team,” he said. “I just thought it was time.”
In May, Moschella took the head coaching job at Columbiana, and his reasoning was simple.
“I love the kids,” he said. “It’s fun, I like to coach, and it’s a great community. And Boardman’s a great community. It’s just two different kind of communities. Life is about experiencing different things, and this is a great thing for me I think.”
Moschella coached his Clippers to two early victories this season, including a 47-35 win over Lisbon David Anderson High on Thursday.
Moschella did not miss a beat screaming at the referees and his players during every possession. He even picked up a technical foul with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter.
“It’s just his quality of coaching,” said Khylea Fullum, who finished with 21 points. “That’s how he coached through 500 wins, and I think we respect that.”
Moschella honed in on point guard Bailey Mook. During a few timeouts, he talked to her separate from the team with his face boiling.
“He’s not picking on me,” she said. “He’s just giving me constructive criticism about what I’m doing wrong. He’s a great coach. We couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Lisbon coach Jason Thompson met Moschella for the first time Thursday and got to see what he’s like in person.
“I got to give him credit,” Thompson said. “He has those girls playing hard. I wish I could get the same over here, but we just pick and choose. If these girls decide they want to get after it, we could be really good.”
The Blue Devils (1-1) held the Clippers (2-0) to three points in the first quarter before a strong second quarter knotted the score at halftime.
“They [the Clippers] were just seeing if I could die of a heart attack,” Moschella said laughing. “We made some mistakes, and [Pamela Pierce] is a great player. But then I put Bailey my point guard on her, and it just made her life miserable.”
One major change for Moschella is wearing a red and black instead of maroon.
“I look different,” he said. “I think I look pretty handsome though.”