BOWLING GREEN — Gary Gardner will move up to the position of head boys basketball coach at Bowling Green High School, succeeding former coach Von Graffin, whose contract was not renewed by the district’s board of education after 11 seasons.
For the past two years Gardner served as Graffin’s varsity assistant, a position he had previously held at both Perrysburg and Otsego. Gardner also has coached basketball at the freshman and middle-school levels, and directed a northwest Ohio AAU program.
“I have great respect for head coaches and understand it’s a tremendous challenge,” Gardner said. “I certainly will have things to offer but I also know I have things to learn. I’m looking to do this as a ‘We’ thing and not an ‘I’ thing.
“I’m going to be looking for a lot of input from a lot of people, including players and coaches, to put the best program in place that we can. I want to work collaboratively, understanding also that the role of the head coach is to make decisions.”
Gardner, 50, is a 1981 graduate of Eastwood High School and a 1986 graduate of Bowling Green State University. He is the younger brother of State Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green).
New BG Athletic Director Scott Seeliger gives his vote of confidence to Gardner, who has been a middle school principal in the Anthony Wayne School District since 1997.
“Gary brings a wealth of basketball knowledge to the head coach position,” said Seeliger, who succeeded Mike Vannett as AD following the 2012-13 school year. “Additionally, he is well acclimated to the Bowling Green program, and will hit the ground running.
“Equally important, Gary is a highly esteemed educator. I am excited for our student-athletes, and know that they will benefit from coach Gardner’s vast experience.”
Graffin had posted a 148-94 overall record at BG, including 111-43 in Northern Lakes League play. His Bobcats won NLL titles in 2003 and 2011, and last year’s team finished 14-11 overall (9-5 NLL).
Six seniors graduated from that squad, including Vitto Brown, the Ohio Division II co-player of the year who will play at Wisconsin, and Gardner’s son, Evan.
The only starter returning will be junior point guard LaMonta Stone. Gardner’s son, Mitchell, who will be a junior and was the Bobcats’ sixth man last season, also returns.
“That is not the reason I’m doing it,” Gardner said of coaching his son. “I coached many years in different programs long before he was born. On the other hand, it is going to be enjoyable coaching my son.
“But this is a group of players that I’m very familiar with, as far back as third grade through junior high and high school. So, it’s going to be like having a lot of sons on the team.
“This will be a tremendous challenge as far as wins and losses. But we’re also looking forward to being a pleasant surprise [in the NLL]. We’ve got some good pieces in place, and they’re very excited about next season.”
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter @JungaBlade.