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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2001

Former St. Francis coach new Waite basketball boss

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Joe Suboticki has been named the new boys basketball coach at Waite High School, just months after he resigned the same post at St. Francis de Sales.

Former Indians coach Dave Pitsenbarger stepped down in July after guiding Waite to a City League runner-up finish last season, the school's first boys title-game appearance in 27 years. He posted a 27-34 record in three years as head coach after serving 10 years as an assistant.

Suboticki coached the Knights to a 79-49 mark over six seasons, with St. Francis reaching a top-10 state ranking in three of those seasons. Overall, including stints at Barberton, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Portsmouth and North Royalton high schools in Ohio, Suboticki has a 365-137 career record.

He led Akron SVSM to a Class AA state title in 1984 and reached the AA state semifinals with SVSM in 1987. He also guided Portsmouth to a Division II state championship in 1988, and to a state runner-up finish in 1990. When he exited St. Francis he pointed to his coaching philosophy of up-tempo offense and full-court pressure defense and how it conflicted with the type of athletes he was coaching for the Knights.

“I was prepared to go without coaching this year,” said Suboticki, 53, who teaches at Libbey. “I had applied for a few jobs in the spring but didn't get them. But the Waite job opened up and it worked out. I think all the City League public schools have some athletes, and there's a chance to play the style of ball I like to play.

“I knew they had lost a lot from last year's team and there probably would be a rebuilding process. But I'm up for the challenge and I hope to build something over there. Hopefully I can keep the kids at Waite that belong at Waite.”

Waite athletic director Bob Utter said the situation with athletes at his school may be a better fit for the veteran coach. “Joe feels that, with the type of talent we get here, it's conducive to the style of basketball he wants to coach,'' Utter said. ‘‘I think the (Waite athletic) committee made a good choice when you look at his resume and the way he handled himself in the interview. It was pretty impressive.''

Pitsenbarger came within three seconds of coaching Waite to its first City League basketball title in 48 years last spring, only to watch Scott score the winning basket on a rebound and take a one-point victory. This came after the Indians had rallied from 14-points behind in the second half to upset St. John's Jesuit in the semifinals.

“My goal was to stay and build a program that I would be proud of and that East Toledo would be proud of,'' said Pitsenbarger, a 1983 graduate of Waite. “But I didn't feel that I would be able to do that without being in the building as a teacher. I was not able to keep up with the kids' grades and other issues with players.''

Pitsenbarger, a teacher at nearby Garfield Elementary, has tried unsuccessfully for years to gain a teaching post at Waite. One nearly became available to him after the 2000-2001 school year but another displaced Toledo Public Schools teacher with more seniority was given that job.

And the coach had other reasons for leaving.

“Besides not being in the building, I have two young kids (sons 11 and 9) I want to spend more time with and I also want to go back to school and get my master's degree,'' Pitsenbarger said. “I needed a break to concentrate on my family and going back to school. Also, there are some issues with transferring (of athletes from school to school) in the City that I don't agree with.''

Last season senior Rodney Clark, Waite's starting point guard, transferred to Libbey. This year, Jamell (Kevin) Baldwin, a top player on Waite's 13-8 team as a junior last season, transferred to Scott. These are just two of many transfers involving City League athletes in the past decade.

The City League has no specific rules restricting or penalizing students who transfer within the TPS system, provided the student shows proof of residency within the district he or she transfers to.



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