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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2005

Assistant bids for Gracyk's job at Eastwood

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Jim Gracyk has coached Eastwood's girls basketball team to eight Suburban Lakes League championships, six regionals and one final four appearance. He has compiled a 267-88 mark over 15 years with the Eagles.

Yet, Gracyk's wish to continue as coach apparently will be up to the Eastwood board of education at its meeting May 21.

"I just wish [the indecision] would all end,'' said the 56-year-old Gracyk. ''It's been going on for three months now and I'd like for it to be over with."

What he has been dealing with is the possibility of losing his job to his assistant coach, Mitch Freeman, who serves as the junior varsity coach. Freeman, who teaches at Eastwood Middle School, formally applied for the varsity post in February, even though Gracyk had not announced plans to retire anytime soon.

Employment guidelines within Eastwood Local Schools stipulate that full-time employees have the first right to a coaching position. Although Gracyk has been in charge of the Eagles program for three times as long as Freeman has been teaching in the district, he's not a full-time employee. He works full-time outside the district.

Freeman has the right to request the job even if it isn't vacant. He went through the proper steps toward applying. That led to an interview with a four-member interview committee. The next phase is the upcoming vote by the school board.

"It's been a lot of turmoil," Gracyk admitted. "It totally caught me off-guard."

The situation has raised some eyebrows and emotions within the Pemberville community. Gracyk said the school administration has received more than 100 letters written in support of him.

Attempts to reach Eastwood principal Bill Workman and Freeman were unsuccessful.

The Eagles finished 15-7 overall and tied for second place in the SLL with an 11-3 league record last season.

Gracyk, who continues to prepare for the Eagles' summer, is expecting 11 players back for next season.

Eastwood athletic director Hub Reed would not comment on the situation.

Gracyk wasn't planning for this to be his last season.

"What I've determined through all of this is, I'm not ready to quit coaching," he said.

Perrysburg High sophomores Chelsea Campbell and Melissa Szkutnik have made verbal commitments to play Division I volleyball programs.

Campbell intends to attend Xavier University, and

Szkutnik plans to go to Ohio State University.

Szkutnik, who stands 6-foot-2, and Campbell, a six-footer, are two of only 13 sophomores across the country who have verbally committed to Division I programs, according to richkern.com, a volleyball recruiting Web site.

"I'm very honored to coach them and I have two more years to coach them," Perrysburg coach Jeff Buck said.

Szkutnik recorded more than 150 kills while averaging 1.5 blocks per game. Campbell accounted for more than 170 kills and owned a 90.3 serving percentage as the Yellow Jackets went 18-6 overall and 11-3 in the Northern Lakes League.

Perrysburg's Sam Allesee is off to a strong start on the mound. The Yellow Jackets junior was 4-0 and owned a 1.24 ERA while fanning 30 batters and walking four in four appearances to help Perrysburg remain in contention in the NLL race. .●.●. Springfield outfielder Hans Vetter continues to swing a lively bat this spring. The senior began the week hitting .476 with 20 hits and 16 RBIs.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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