As he enters his first season as head football coach at Northview High School, Marek Moldawsky, Jr., has a clear initial objective with the Wildcats' program.
"To change the culture," Moldawsky said. "I had a whole list of things that could help do that immediately.
"It feels great [becoming a head coach]. I'm very excited about taking what I've learned from a number of head coaches, putting it together in my own fashion and seeing what we can do. Seeing how far we can take the team."
Moldawsky, 44, who was selected to succeed Eric Keller back in February, was approved by the Sylvania school board late last month along with two other new Wildcat head coaches.
Assistant coach Jon Haynes, a Northview graduate and former soccer player, was elevated to head boys soccer coach to succeed the highly successful Ryan Creech, and Sarah Wilson, who was a volleyball assistant coach at Perrysburg last season, was installed as Northview's new head coach in that sport.
Moldawsky has groomed himself for a head coaching position for more than 20 years after graduating from Maumee High School in 1985 and then earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Toledo and Illinois State University.
Between 1988, when he assisted on the staff at the former Macomber High School, and the past five seasons, when he served on Doug Pearson's staff at St. John's Jesuit, Moldawsky put in 15 seasons as an assistant.
He took some seasons off while pursuing his graduate studies in psychology. His primary profession is as a school psychologist for Toledo Public Schools.
The past two years Moldawsky was the defensive coordinator at St. John's and, when he got the green light at Northview, he wasted little time with his "changing the culture" objective.
He began where most programs approach their next seasons as soon as the prior ones end -- in the weight room. Call it a facelift for lack of a better term, but Moldawsky and members of his new staff gave the facility a new paint job, reworked the layout, and purchased some new equipment.
"That was a tangible sign that we've changed the culture," Moldawsky said. "I wanted to come in an increase enthusiasm and raise the excitement level, which I think we've done.
"Right now the [participation] levels are up 50 kids from last year. We have 107 kids involved from freshman through senior."
Raising the numbers is a more significant change for a program that has toiled in the shadow of Sylvania's other football program. Veteran coach Jim Mayzes' Southview Cougars, a perennial power in the Northern Lakes League and a playoff regular, have won five straight NLL titles.
In 2008 the Cougars were Division II state champions with a 15-0 record and were also state runners-up in 1999.
Keller, who resigned last December after 15 seasons, was unable to approach that level of success with his Wildcats, who were 63-88 overall, 38-60 in the NLL, and 4-11 versus Southview from 1996-2010. Although Northview was typically competitive near the middle of the NLL, there were only three winning seasons, one NLL title and one playoff appearance (both in 2005). The Wildcats were 2-8, 3-7 and 3-7 in Keller's final three seasons.
"There hasn't been a lot of winning," Moldawsky said. "The community is very hungry for a winning team, and superintendent and the [Sylvania school] board is hungry to have two successful programs in the system."
Moldawsky acknowledged that planning to win and winning are different things, and achieving success will require a significant commitments from coaches and players alike.
"There are fantastic kids here," he said. "They are extremely coachable. They listen to what you say and they're willing to learn and to work hard.
"I think, with a little enthusiasm and the right kind of coaching chemistry, these kids can achieve things that they never thought were possible."
One person who believes Moldawsky will change the culture is Northview athletic director Chris Irwin.
"He brings a lot of energy and high intensity," Irwin said of Moldawsky, "and he brings a pretty diverse staff with a lot of experience.
"As one of the [selection] committee members, to me, he portrayed this passion of turning the program around. I just had the sense that he was a 13-month [a year] guy who was kind of grooming himself to take over a program that's been struggling of late and make it successful."
Irwin said he has already seen evidence of Moldawsky's impact.
"There's a community buzz right now with Marek," the Wildcats' AD said. "There's a lot of excitement. They haven't even played a game yet and the north side of Sylvania is very excited.
"I don't think it'll take three or four years. We'll be in the mix in a year or two."
"I think my main strength is motivating players to achieve their best, on the field and off the field," Moldawsky said. "Also, putting together diverse groups of people who can function as a cohesive group.
"The coaching staff I've put together is fantastic. They're from different walks of life, and nine of the 15 have professional playing college playing or college coaching experience. We have guys who have been to the next level and know what they're doing."
The marquee name on Moldawsky's staff will be Chris Schilling, the creative offensive coordinator who served in that capacity under Mayzes during Southview's state championship and state runner-up seasons.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6461.