Niles to hire basketball coaches
By STEVE RUMAN
The Niles High School boys basketball program has found its next coach.
Pending board approval, Doug Foster will take over the Dragons’ boys program. Foster, the girls coach for the past five seasons, will replace Ron Price, whose contract was not renewed following a six-year stint.
Filling the void created by the Foster hiring will be Michael Cappuzzello, who coached the Dragons’ ninth grade boys basketball team this past winter.
The hiring of both coaches is expected to be approved at the May 15 Niles Board of Education meeting.
“I’ve coached all different sports in Niles almost my entire adult life, so to be able to take this next step is an honor, it’s very exciting,” Foster said. “Coaching the girls program was a great experience, I worked with some great girls and I grew as a coach.
“I feel as though we made great strides, and hopefully we can carry that over to the boys program.”
A 1983 Niles graduate, Foster served as a longtime assistant boys coach under Don Andres at Niles, Howland and Reynolds, Pa. He guided the Niles Middle School program for three years beginning in 2008, then was the Champion High boys varsity coach for two years before taking over the Niles girls program in 2013.
Foster inherited a program which had struggled to earn wins. The Dragons girls team went 14-10 a year ago, then won 11 games this past winter. Foster now faces the same challenge with the boys program, which is coming off a 4-19 campaign.
“I’m leaving the girls program with a heavy heart, I really enjoyed working with what was a great group of kids,” Foster said. “At the same time, I’m anxious to get things going on the boys side.
“Coach Price maintained a solid program. His players worked hard, and the cupboard certainly isn’t bare.”
Niles is expected to return several key players, including juniors Trent Johnson, Corbin Foy and Cyler Kane-Johnson. Foy missed most of the season with an injury. Kane-Johnson led the All American Conference with a 27.4 points-per-game scoring average.
“I’m a firm believer that playing together, playing smart and playing hard will lead to success,” Foster said. “Niles doesn’t have that 6-foot-5 kid that can take over a game. We have to find ways to win, and that will start with defense. Our teams will be very defensive oriented.”
Cappuzzello served as a head girls varsity basketball coach just one year, but it was a successful season. In 2007, he led Hubbard to a 17-6 record. Cappuzzello said he coached “around the clock for 28 straight years” before taking a two-year break. He returned as an assistant under Price in 2016 before taking over the freshmen program.
Cappuzzello was an assistant football coach at Ursuline when the Irish won a state title in 2000. He has also coached golf, softball and baseball at the high school level.
“I’ve seen it all, I’ve been part of state championships and I’ve been around no-win seasons,” Cappuzzello said. “I know the dos and dont’s.
“Above everything else, I know what’s important when it comes to teaching our youth. Beyond the wins and losses, being able to have an impact beyond sports is very important to me.”
Cappuzzello credited Foster and former Niles girls coach Eric Marino for “instilling the foundation for a sound program, and one which Niles can be proud of.” He said the “family atmosphere” which he felt during the past two years should only grow in the future.
Cappuzzello is a teacher in the Badger school district.