Just when Joe Guerrero thought he was out of coaching, the 2014 Ohio Division I boys basketball co-coach of the year is back in.
Guerrero, 60, will succeed his older brother, Gil Guerrero, as the boys coach at Start High School.
Joe never actually resigned his position at Bowsher following the 2013-14 season, which was the best in the Rebels’ history. It included a 24-3 record, a No. 8 state ranking, and the program’s first City League and district championships.
The day after Bowsher lost to Mansfield Senior in a D-I regional semifinal, Guerrero began his duties as the Rebels’ interim head baseball coach. When his wife, Donna, had some health issues in the spring, Guerrero wasn’t certain he wanted to retain his basketball job.
All coaches who are not teachers in the Toledo Public Schools system are required by contract to reapply for their positions each year after their season is complete. Guerrero, who teaches in the Oregon Schools system, elected not to reapply.
“At that time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to coach anymore because my wife’s health hadn’t been great,” Guerrero said. “They had to post the job, which I understood.”
Former Bowsher and Ohio State star and NBA player Dennis Hopson applied for and was offered the job. But Hopson had a contingency that he would take the job only if he could secure a full-time position within TPS.
When a position was not available to him, Hopson — who had been a Bowling Green State University men’s basketball assistant under former Falcons coach Louis Orr — passed on the coaching post at his alma mater.
The Rebels job was reopened, and Guerrero, who ultimately reconsidered after his wife’s health status improved, did not apply in time to meet the posted deadline.
“I appreciate everything that Joe did for our kids, our school, and the community,” Bowsher athletic director Terry Reeves said. “I honestly and truthfully understood where he was coming from [when he did not reapply].
“I called him several times about the deadline because I didn’t want him to miss the boat, in case he changed his mind. But he ended up missing the date.”
But, where a window was closed, a door opened for Guerrero.
“My wife is doing OK now and, after I had a break from basketball for a while, she actually encouraged me to keep coaching,” Guerrero said. “By then it was too late.”
Bowsher’s athletic committee ultimately chose Keith Tate as the school’s new boys basketball coach.
Following the 2013-14 season, Gil Guerrero had retired from TPS and from his boys basketball position at Start. Because of a delay in that job posting, younger brother Joe had time to apply, and the Spartans’ athletic committee hired him last week.
Gil Guerrero had three different stints as Start’s head coach, winning City championships in 1997 and 2013, capturing the latter crown by defeating his brother’s Bowsher team in the title game.
“I decided I still wanted to coach, so I looked around, applied at Start, and I was fortunate enough to get hired,” Guerrero said. “I know going to Start is going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.
“Their varsity record [4-18 overall] wasn’t very good last year, but I know they had a good JV team and a good freshman team. I think they have a lot of potential to be good in the future. That’s what I’m going to build for.”
Joe Guerrero will take a 309-270 career record into what will be his 28th season as a high school head coach, a run that has included stops at Waite (his alma mater, seven years), Clay (15 years), and Bowsher (75-37 record, five years).
Guerrero’s Bowsher varsity, which was hit hard by graduation a few weeks ago, was a special group, according to the former Rebels coach.
“That was an incredible year because it was a group of kids that really hung together,” Guerrero said. “The chemistry is what made that team. They got along and they all had the same goal. That was to win and be successful.
“If you took all the individual parts, we really weren’t that great. But, when we put all of those parts together and played as a team, we were great. All the parts fit together perfectly. That was the key.”
In addition to his state coaching honor, Guerrero was also the City League, Northwest District, and Blade coach of the year.