More than meets the eye
There’s a man jumping around on the sidelines, yelling at one official — OK, maybe all three — on the floor.
It looks like he’s losing his mind most of the time.
That’s the game-day Jeff Rasile. Not many people see the mild-mannered McDonald High School boys basketball coach outside of that game-day scene.
The 47-year-old Rasile will not return to the Blue Devil sidelines next season. He announced his retirement earlier this week, leaving with a 386-98 record during 16 seasons at McDonald and four at Champion High School. Rasile’s teams had six Division IV district championships and a regional final appearance in 2011.
Matthias Tayala, a first-team, All-Ohio selection in 2011, said Rasile was laid back at practices. On occasion, he let his players know if they did something wrong. That’s what coaches do.
Tayala said players believed in what Rasile was preaching, which made everything easier in their up-tempo offense and pressure defense.
“We connected with him so well, not only as a coach, but personally,” Tayala said. “We felt he loved us. Obviously, we had a player-coach relationship. He bonded with personal stories he would give us at practice. It would all connect some way to basketball. We just connected that way, which helped us believe in him and play our (butts) off for him.”
Zach Rasile, a McDonald senior and second leading scorer in Ohio high school basketball history with 3,013 career points, saw his father coach from the days he was in elementary school,
“I probably thought he was little crazy, to be honest,” Zach said. “He was just passionate about the game. He was a competitor, and he wanted to win so much. That is something I took from him a little bit, just the way he wanted to win.
“We spent every day in the gym together. He kept guiding me and guiding me and help me get better as a player. That’s what shaped me as a player.”
Zach will play at West Liberty University next season, an NCAA Division II powerhouse known for averaging more than 100 points per game.
The Rasiles’ last game was a March 10 game a 47-45 loss to Lucas in a Division IV Canton Regional semifinal. McDonald finished with a 22-4 record.
Jeff said he has “no plans to ever coach again.” He did step away from the program for a year in 2011, but he returned for the ’12-13 season. He left an opening to return at that time.
“I’m going to miss the big games, but the daily grind — it’s time to take a step back,” he said.
He’ll head to Youngstown State University to see his daughter Bethany play on the Penguins women soccer team. His daughter, Maria, plays volleyball at McDonald. Of course, Zach will play for the Hilltoppers program next season.
“I’ve been fortunate with my kids,” Jeff said. “They’ve had great coaches. I don’t sit in the stands and try to coach games. I don’t know anything about soccer or volleyball.
“You know, it’s time to be a fan.”
McDonald athletic director Randy Riccitelli said the school has opened up the coaching search, which will go until April 15. Prospective candidates can email their resume or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“It’s going to be impossible to replace a coach like him, for sure,” Tayala said.
Undefeated regular seasons. District championships. There were plenty of memories and hard-working players over the years.
And, there was that 63-game, regular-season win streak.
“I can remember all the losses more than the wins,” Jeff said. “I think a lot of coaches will tell you that. We had that 63-game winning streak. That was pretty amazing. My wife would say to me at that time, ‘You need to enjoy the victories.’ It was hard because the more you won, the more stress there was to win the next game.”
He’s going to miss Zach playing high school basketball and being on that sideline next season.
“I’m not going to lie about that,” Jeff said. “As a coach and a parent, it’s hard to believe because it seems like yesterday. He was a little kid and we were starting on a game and we were in the gym every day.
“There’s nothing like the big games for me, especially when you win. Very rarely do I drink. I don’t use drugs. The big games are a high, especially when you win. When you lose, that’s a little tougher. It ruins your weekend. I’m one of the most intense competitors you’ll meet in your life. Winning those big games were special. It was special for the kids.”