It's a new season, with several new faces at the helm.
At least five new coaches will lead their respective teams into the 2013-2014 winter sports season. Jim Kesterholt is a first-year head coach of the Youngsville boys basketball team, Greg Gourley takes over as the head of Eisenhower wrestling, and Tony Richards and Jaimie Ely will lead the Sheffield boys and Sheffield girls hoops teams, respectively.
At Tidioute Charter, Jamie Hicks is listed as the Lady Bulldogs' new head coach.
New Sheffield girls coach Jaimie Ely, middle, instructing Mariah Fitzgerald, left, and Tierra Hansen in a practice this week.
In Sheffield, Richards takes over for Todd Fitch, who was the man in charge for seven seasons beginning in 2006-2007. Richards was most recently an assistant under Allison Kitchell for the Youngsville girls team in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, and coached the Youngsville boys and Tidioute Charter girls for two seasons each prior to that. Before coming to Warren County, Richards got his start coaching AAU basketball in the Newport News, Virginia, area.
"First and foremost, I'd like to thank the administration for giving me the opportunity," said Richards. "My time spent with Allison Kitchell was really beneficial. She should be coaching somewhere."
Richards is taking over a Wolverine program that lost a number of key contributors from last year's team that went 7-15 overall.
"It's a new atmosphere here," said Richards. "Every day is a new challenge, but the kids are responding well. District 9 is going to be tough. You have Johnsonburg, who was the state runner-up (in Class A), Elk County, who has had the same coach for years and is always strong, and Kane, who be a very good team this year. All our league games are going to be tough."
Richards will have a pair of former Wolverine players in Colin Shine and Brandon Troutman assisting him on the sidelines.
Speaking of former players, Ely - a 2004 Sheffield graduate - is now at the head of the Lady Wolverines program after the departure of three-year head coach Jeff Labesky. Ely was the junior varsity coach at Sheffield for the 2010-2011 season and coached the junior high girls team this fall.
"I'm hoping I can bring a team that works well together," said Ely. "We kind of have a middle-of-the-road age group with a lot of juniors, so I'm excited to be able to work with them for two years and be a solid team."
Sheri Adesso will assist Ely and coach the Lady Wolverines' junior varsity team.
Rounding out the new coaches on the hardwood is Kesterholt, in Youngsville, who coached the Eagles' junior varsity boys team under Keith Martin last year.
For the past five years, Kesterholt has assisted former Edinboro University coach and athletic director Jim McDonald in conducting basketball clinics across the Dominican Republic. He has also coached teams at the Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh, as well as volunteer work with the Youngsville junior high and biddy basketball programs.
A 1987 graduate of Youngsville, Kesterholt hopes to be able to build the program beyond the varsity level.
"We started last year trying to build a more complete program, rather than just coach the kids at the varsity and junior varsity levels," said Kesterholt. "We're trying to be involved from the third and fourth graders at the biddy level all the way through, so that when the younger kids get to varsity they have an understanding of what is expected from them."
Kesterholt will be assisted by fellow '87 graduate Matt Haight at the high school level, Ken Haight in junior high, and volunteers Ernie Hemmerley and Andy Brunecz - both former Youngsville coaches.
The only change on the mat this year comes at Eisenhower, where Gourley takes over after serving as an assistant to Kiel Woodburn and junior high coach with the Knights. In addition to coaching, Gourley was a standout wrestler at Ike during his high school career.
"I loved (wrestling at Eisenhower)," said Gourley. "I've been involved with the sport since I was three years old. My dad was a coach when I was coming up through. I wrestled up through Eisenhower, through my high school years, and just stuck with it. I just love the sport and I wanted to give back."
Woodburn coached just one season at Ike, compiling an 8-6 record in dual meets and sending graduated senior Jake Johnson on to the state tournament.
"I'd just like to see the kids achieve what they want to," added Gourley. "I feel if I can give back to a kid experience-wise so they can have a better season, I did a good job as a coach."
Gourley will be assisted by Joe McGraw.
Among coaches who are returning this year is Warren boys basketball coach Jeff Berdine, who is back for his 12th season with an overall record of 155-108. Lisa Ruhlman returns to lead the Lady Dragons for the sixth year with a record of 67-48, and Glenn Baldensperger is back for his 12th season of Warren wrestling after winning well over 100 matches in team dual meets. Jeff Walters is approaching a hundred wins in his sixth year as Warren swim coach.
At Eisenhower, Dave Allenson will coach the boys basketball team for the third year after spending 11 seasons in charge the girls program. Mike Logue took over the Lady Knights after the move by Allenson, and will return to coach many of the same players he took to the District 10 Class A playoffs last year.
Youngsville wrestling coach Scott Ishman is back for his third year, and Dave Becker returns for his second year coaching the Lady Eagles basketball team.
After leading his team to a school record in dual-meet wins last season, Jack Rice is back to lead the Sheffield Wolverines for the third year on the mat.
Manning returns for his ninth year to coach Tidioute Charter's boys hoops team.
Tom Jones was both the WCCS boys and girls coach last season.