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Published: Tuesday, 3/23/2010

Longtime City League coach retires

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Joe Suboticki has coached the Scott boys basketball team since 2004. He became the first coach to head up three City League programs. Joe Suboticki has coached the Scott boys basketball team since 2004. He became the first coach to head up three City League programs.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

With three disappointing seasons in succession at what has been the one of the City League's top all-time boys basketball programs, the time became right for one of Ohio's most successful coaching careers to end.

Joe Suboticki, 62, has announced his retirement from coaching and teaching at Scott High School at the end of the school year.

Suboticki exits with a 472-223 record (.680) over 30 seasons spent at seven schools, a run that included state championships at three schools.

"To be honest it's not much to do with basketball," said Suboticki, who was 73-53 in six seasons at Scott. "I actually contemplated this a couple of years ago when I sent away for my retirement info. The health insurance might be a problem because we have a 10-year-old daughter, so that was a concern."

Suboticki put the earlier retirement plan on hold.

"I thought then, that if I had a couple of good years, I might retire and maybe just coach basketball to try and get my 500th win," he said. "But those couple of years turned into disasters because of ineligibility, and disciplinary actions against some of the kids."

Suboticki's first two seasons with the Bulldogs were a high point.

In 2004-05 Scott went 19-5, including a notable upset of St. John's Jesuit in the Division I district final. The Bulldogs followed with a 21-2 mark and a City League championship in 2006.

After the Bulldogs bolted to a 12-0 start and high midseason state ranking in 2006-07, the tide turned. Scott missed the CL playoffs and ended 14-5. The Bulldogs then went 8-11, 7-14 and 4-16, respectively, the last three years, with an 11-22 mark CL play over that span.

"Joe notified me that he was going to retire once the season ended," Scott athletic director Jim Huss said, "and he informed the team after our heartbreaking [62-61 tournament] loss to Rossford.

"I felt bad for him for the way our season ended, given his numerous coaching accomplishments. I feel that our team's struggles the last three seasons are not indicative of his coaching ability. I wish Joe well in his retirement and look forward to the next era of Scott basketball."

This year's Bulldogs had no returning letter winners to start the season, and closed 2-9 in league play.

"I'm not close enough now to concern myself with [500 wins]," Suboticki said. "So, I just figured that now is a pretty good time, especially with all the stuff going on with the schools being in debt, and closing this and closing that, and taking pay cuts. This was a good time to do it."

A standout basketball and baseball player at Barberton, Suboticki became an assistant at his alma mater under Jack Greynolds, who suffered a heart attack before the 1975-76 season. Assigned to be interim head coach, Suboticki guided the Magics - led by Carter Scott, who went on to play at Ohio State and twins Mark and Marty Bodner, who would play at Michigan - to a 13-0 start before Greynolds' health permitted him to return.

Barberton would finish 25-0 as Class AAA state champion, and pushed its winning streak to 50 games before being upset by Columbus Linden McKinley in the 1977 state final.

Suboticki became head coach at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary the next year and led the Irish to state tournament appearances in 1983, 1984, and 1987, winning the Class AA state title in 1984.

After 10 seasons at SVSM, he moved on to Portsmouth, where his Trojans went 27-1 and won the 1988 Division II state title in his first season, and finished at 24-3 and state runner-up in 1990.

"The first 15 years of [coaching career] were like fairy-tale land," Suboticki said. "We went to the final four seven times, had 286 wins and three state championships. It hasn't been that good since then. Toledo hasn't been good for me.

"You take chances when you move around. Some of the places where I moved were good decisions, and some weren't. But I think I had a good career. I had my big run in the 1980s. I'm pretty proud of what I did.

"I wish it would have ended on a better note, but that's the way things go in life. You have ups and downs, and that's just how it turned out."

After a one-year stop at North Royalton in 1994-95, Suboticki arrived in Toledo in 1995 to begin a six-year stint at St. Francis de Sales.

He moved on to Waite for three seasons (2001-04) and became the first coach to head up three City League programs when he took the Scott post in 2004.

"The 223 losses really disgusts me," Suboticki said, "because about 40 of them came in the last couple years, which is ridiculous."

Might he entertain a comeback down the road?

"No, I'm done," Suboticki said. "When next year rolls around and it gets to basketball season, I may have second thoughts. But I'm done. I'm sure the itch will come, but that's to be expected."

Huss also will look for a new girls varsity head basketball coach for the Bulldogs, as Debra Jones resigned her position after four seasons.

Jones, who cited the need to deal with some "health issues," stepped down after a 9-11 season.

"Coach Dede [Jones] was very passionate about Scott High School, especially our athletic department," Huss said. "She attended many of our sporting events and, when we were in a pinch, she coached our softball team as well. She is a very giving person and will be missed by the Scott community."

Prior to taking the head coaching position, Jones served as a Bulldogs assistant. She works in the health insurance field.

Wondell Hills has resigned after one season as Bowsher football coach, athletic director Terry Reeves announced.

Hills, 38, who had previously been a Bowsher assistant for three seasons, departs after a 4-7 season that included a loss to St. John's in the City League postseason Hall of Fame charity game.

"I wish the program good luck, and I'm going to take some time out to reprioritize my life with my family," Hills said. "Hopefully, I'll be back into coaching sometime soon."

Reeves declined comment on Hills' resignation.

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com or

419-724-6461.



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