Board gets pro-Mikovich earful
Current players and assistant coaches expressed their feelings on the hiring process.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The seven Chaney High School football players who showed up at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting to give vocal and moral support to Alan Mikovich as the Cowboys' next head coach got a civics lesson.
It still remains whether their man gets the position.
If he does or doesn't, the players will have chalked up another lesson, one with which they're more familiar: Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
Matt Krause, Jonathan Miller, Sergio Hawse, Joe Balog, Brandon Burd, Tillman Douglas and Anthony Bowell, along with several Chaney assistant coaches and gridiron club members, were on hand to speak on behalf of Mikovich, who is on the outside looking in.
Following the resignation of Coach Ron Berdis in December, three Youngstown school district employees applied for the Chaney job.
Scheduled to be interviewed are system regulars John Turco and John Protopapa, both former head coaches in the area, and Nathan Boyd, an eighth grade coach at Volney Rogers.
The 37-year-old Mikovich, a defensive coordinator on Berdis' staff but not a teacher in the system, is taking a stance to be considered.
"I've been real impressed with the outstanding support from the community and the West Side, in particular, trying to get this Chaney job," Mikovich said before the BOE meeting.
A teacher at Jackson-Milton where he was head football coach from 2001-2005, Mikovich doesn't know how much the public input is helping his crusade, but he hopes it opens some eyes or ears to have the school board and interview committee study the Youngstown Education Association contract language.
"I'm hoping it'll allow us to get an interview," the former Chaney player and graduate said. "That's really all I'm looking for, is the opportunity to become the head coach of Chaney High School."
Gridiron Club input
Chaney Gridiron Club president Ray Jaminet urged the board to open the selection process to candidates outside the Youngstown system.
"The attitude that 'If it doesn't work, we'll change next year,' doesn't cut it," Jaminet said of the possibility of frequent hirings after having only four coaches in Chaney's 80-year existence.
Freshman assistant coach Dave Gessler made a plea to have the selection made on a candidate's merits.
He said he believes that Mikovich's hiring would assure a smooth transition in a program that needs as few disruptions as possible after the team posted a 2-9 record last season.
Jerry Olsavsky, a Youngstown State assistant coach and a former Chaney, University of Pittsburgh and Steelers player, echoed others' arguments, but added a compelling comment.
"The things that made me successful were instilled in me at 731 Hazelwood Ave.," Olsavsky said. "If I wanted to return to the school where my picture hangs in the hallway and I wanted to coach, I couldn't do that."
Balog, Miller and Krause, nervous but resolute, stated their cases, too.
The players said Mikovich is diligent about players' conditioning and academics.
"He makes sure we lift and get our grade sheets," Miller said.
Gridiron Club member Cindy Krause asked the board to add Berdis to the search committee.
"There have been only four coaches -- Chester McPhee (28 years), Red Angelo (16), Ed Matey (16) and Berdis (20) -- and we feel Alan Mikovich could be there for another 20 or 25," Krause said.
Berdis, who was on hand but didn't speak, indicated that his choice would be Mikovich.
"I'm concerned they pick the best, Berdis said. "If it's Alan, that's great, but we won't know until we examine all possibilities."
He said no one wants to step to the plate to test the contract or say that opening to outside applicants is definitely out of the question.
"No one's given us an answer," Berdis said. "Evidently, the board is being advised legally so that's the position they're taking."
Berdis said that when he was interviewed for the Chaney job, he was teaching at North High.