By Curtis pulliam
Warren JFK High School has promoted varsity boys basketball assistant coach John Richards to the position of head coach.
“He’s paid his dues, he has a commitment to the school,” Randy Rair, Diocese of Youngstown assistant superintendent, said Tuesday. “People we’ve talked to said he’s a real good Xs and Os guy.
“The people that know him well say he truly cares about the kids.”
Richards, who was an assistant for the Eagles under Shawn Pompelia, is looking forward to the new opportunity.
“It means everything in the world,” Richards said. “I get to do what I love to do.”
In April, Pompelia was let go for a second time as JFK’s varsity head coach. According to Pompelia, the decision was based on a complaint about foul language in practice.
Richards, a 1994 graduate of the school, spent eight seasons as one of the main assistants. Seven of those years were helping Pompelia.
“Shawn gave me the opportunity to come back,” Richards said. “I played for Shawn as well.”
Days after Pompelia’s dismissal, Richards sent a letter to Rair regarding his feelings about the way the Pompelia dismissal was handled. The letter also was sent to a local newspaper and published.
“Shawn is a close friend,” Richards said. “The committee saw that the letter was coming from a good place. The letter was well-intended.”
Rair said that the letter did not hurt Richards in the hiring process.
“The way we looked at the letter was that he was showing loyalty to a friend,” Rair said. “He was sticking up for a friend and the letter did not play into the decision-making process.”
In a statement, Principal Joe Kenneally said, “John will be a great asset to our basketball program. His knowledge and enthusiasm paired with his Kennedy allegiance make him a great match for this opportunity.
“We wish him much luck and future success.”
As for the team, Richards expects to have an exciting squad on the court.
“We have a ton of senior leadership coming back,” Richards said. “We have plenty of players with experience, athleticism and the ability to put the ball in the hole.”
Rair said that there were about 10 other candidates who applied for the opening in the selection process.
“We followed a pretty traditional pattern,” Rair said. “The job was posted, some of the applicants were chosen for interviews, and the committee picked J.R.”