Moschella milestone is one to scream about
By Kevin Connelly
The always loud and animated girls basketball coach Ron Moschella was barely audible, even with a microphone in his hand, Monday night after earning his 600th career win — a 72-24 Columbiana win over Southern.
“Thank you so much to Columbiana,” Moschella said to a crowd made up of fans, family members and former players. “I will always have my Boardman family, but now I have another family and I love you all.”
In his second stint as a girls basketball coach, Moschella has the Clippers playing a familiar brand of basketball with a style that only he can call his.
Towards the end of the third quarter, Columbiana (6-1) had its second string on the floor with a 54-12 lead over Southern (1-5). After a few turnovers and missed shots, Moschella stood up and screamed, “You guys can’t score!”
As the five girls return to the bench at the end of the quarter he looked at them and said, “You’ve gotta make better passes! I mean, what were you thinking?”
It was vintage Moschella.
“He is very ... passionate,” said Mark D’Eramo, Columbiana’s assistant coach and former Boardman football coach. “He’s one of a kind.”
D’Eramo has coached under Moschella on three separate occasions (1991-97, 2009-11 and now) and said what sometimes gets perceived as negativity is really just his passion.
“He’s a tremendous motivator,” D’Eramo said. “You better play hard, but he’ll teach you how to play and if you don’t want to do that he’s not the right guy for you.”
After 31 years as the Boardman head coach, Moschella stepped down in January 2012. A month prior he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and felt resigning was the right thing to do, with no timetable of his return.
After just two months his condition stabilized and Moschella realized the only place he belonged was on the bench coaching. But his friend Jeff Hammerton had taken over at Boardman and Moschella felt it wasn’t right to return there.
When Columbiana offered him a job, Moschella said yes.
“Just thinking back on all the great players — some are doctors, some are professors — it’s nice,” Moschella said. “I think I just love the kids a lot. It’s rewarding, you know, when they work hard and they accomplish something I love to see their faces.”
His current and former players will tell you he’s also not afraid to tell you when you screwed up, too. Junior Baylie Mook, who scored 16 points in Monday’s win, said she’s gotten used to her coach’s unique style.
“He’s like that all the time so it doesn’t really bother me,” Mook said. “I know he just trying to make us better as a team.”
He recorded 573 of his victories in Division I with the Spartans, giving him 27 with the his new family in Columbiana. When someone said he’s going to coach until he gets another 600 with the Clippers, Moschella could only laugh and shake his head.
“I’ve got great players that makes it fun to coach right now,” Moschella said. “We’ll just take one at a time. It’s not about the wins really, it’s about the kids, and I have a good time with them.”
With 33 years of coaching under his belt, Moschella said his coaching style is the one part of him that hasn’t changed over time.
“I’m maybe heavier and older but I’m still the same guy and I’ll never change,” he said. “A guy like me can’t change.”