COLUMBIANA - For what is believed to be the first time in Columbiana County history, a coach will lead both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams.
The Board of Education approved by a 4-1 vote Monday giving coach Ron Moschella a one-year contract as the Columbiana boys head coach for the 2014-15 school year.
The boys had four straight losing seasons under the last two coaches.
It is Moschella's success with the girls team that made him a front runner for the position, according to Superintendent Don Mook.
Others who applied were boys junior varsity coach Will Johnston, Lisbon varsity assistant coach Todd Johnson, Crestview freshman boys coach Gerard Grimm and Salem junior varsity boys coach Jake Zatchok.
Mook, along with others in favor of the hiring, said Moschella completely turned the "floundering" girls team around when he was brought on as coach in April 2012, only a few months after he stepped down from a 31-year coaching career in Boardman.
Moschella led the Spartans to 546 wins, making him one of the winningest girls basketball coaches in Ohio history.
Mook said the Clippers won only six games the season before Moschella's hiring and he turned the program around practically overnight. Columbiana won 21 games in his first season and a school-record 23 wins and a share of the Inter-Tri County League lower tier title this past season.
"I believe he will be able to develop the same fundamental skills with a competitive edge for our boys team," Mook said.
His optimism was mirrored by others at the meeting.
"Moschella took the girls team from one of the worst to the league in the first year. I was very excited to hear coach Moschella" was being considered, district parent Kevin Smith told the board before the hiring Monday.
Smith visited a few of the open gyms recently to watch Moschella with the boys.
"They are all varsity and junior varsity players. He is a motivator. Watching him teach these kids was very, very impressive," he said.
Deanna Tringhese, who has one daughter on the team coached by Moschella and another coming into the eighth-grade program, said he is a "very intelligent man and well qualified."
She and Mook's wife, Debbie, agree Moschella has an open-door policy and like the comeraderie that is fostered among the team.
Baylie Mook, the daughter of Don and Debbie Mook, has played under Moschella and said she thinks he will be able to successfully coach the boys team without letting the girls team falter.
In fact, she said the coach assured the team that if he was hired for the position nothing would change for their team.
"I believe Ron Moschella would be a great asset to the boys team," she said.
Kathy Roncone, wife of board member Tony Roncone, also voiced support for the hiring.
Their daughter Lindsey played under Moschella for one year before graduating this year and Mrs. Roncone is looking forward to her son Matt being led by him on the boys team.
"To have him be able to coach my son is a huge blessing. He is a motivator a hard worker. He is just as kind and good with kids as anyone I have ever seen. I feel 100 percent that if anybody could do it, it would be him," she said.
She doesn't believe the shared duties will be a problem, and scheduling shouldn't be a conflict, according to Debbie Mook, who said practices and tournaments are rarely ever at the same time for boys and girls teams.
Moschella made $6,251 on this year's girls head coaching contract and will make the same amount on the one-year boys contract awarded Tuesday, Treasurer Lori Posey said.
Another one-year contract for Moschella to continue leading the girls team will be presented to the board at the June 10 meeting, she added.
Board member Kelly Witmer, whose daughter Emily plays varsity basketball, was the only one who opposed the hiring, although she personally approves of him as coach.
She said the decision was based on the concerns that were shared to her by others in the district which had to the do with the precedence being set of one person coaching two different teams.
"I feel Ron is qualified to coach and teach fundamentals... I think he is absolutely capable," she said.
Board members discussed the hiring behind closed doors for nearly an hour before making the decision.
Board member Mark Huston said hiring Moschella seems to be the best decision for the district at this time.
Members of the boys basketball team also attended the meeting but none spoke, and Moschella was not present.
Mook said Moschella will be hiring assistants soon and has already targeted Matt Liggett for a junior varsity position, who was a volunteer assistant under Moschella last year.
He will also be recommending Courtney Schiffauer, who played at Michigan State and under Moschella at Boardman. Dave Donnelly, who assisted the girls team season year, is also being considered.