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Published: Tuesday, 7/13/2010

Guerrero will return to coach Start boys basketball

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Gil Guerrero will be in his third stint as coach of Start's boys basketball team. Gil Guerrero will be in his third stint as coach of Start's boys basketball team.
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After an extended interview process that hit a few delays along the way, Start High School's athletic committee ultimately did not go too far to find the Spartans' next head boys basketball coach.

In fact, the eight-member group went back to the well for a third time in hiring former head coach Gil Guerrero.

Guerrero, 60, previously coached the Spartans for a combined 10 seasons.

His first stint (1993-99) included a City League championship in 1997, and his second stretch went from 2004-08.

"From the candidates we had, we hired the veteran coach that was in our building," Sanders said. "Now, most of our head coaches are in our building, which is a bonus.

"I think Gil will do a fine job. It was a tough decision because there truly were a lot of good candidates. We had several gentlemen who would have been just fine as our head coach. But Gil, with his history in the program, and being a Start teacher, carried a lot of weight in working with these kids."

In 2008, Guerrero resigned the Start post and accepted an assistant coach position in the men's basketball program at Owens Community College, where he already held the post as head men's golf coach.

"That was one of the tough things about it," Sanders said of Guerrero's late resignation in 2008, "but the committee looked beyond that. Gil's a friend of friend of mine and he's somebody I know I can work with.

"He's a former athletic director here, so he sees many things from my viewpoint as well as from a coach's viewpoint. I don't think we're going to have any issues."

Guerrero said he had a strong desire to earn a third coaching stint at Start, where he has close ties to the school and community. At no time were these ties more evident than in recent months. His eldest son, Steven, 28, died in an auto accident on May 15.

That tragedy came on the heels of Guerrero's own health issues of the last 11 months.

Just when he was about to be cleared to return to teaching after hip-replacement surgery last August, an infection was discovered, and the artificial hip had to be removed.

Guerrero spent six weeks recuperating in a nursing facility before another replacement could be inserted in December. He was not able to return to work until February, ending an ordeal that would ultimately pale in comparison to the loss of his son three months later.

"A big part of the whole thing was the people at Start High School," Guerrero said, "and the love that they showed me when some pretty bad things happened. They all just poured their hearts out for me. When I heard the job opened up, I thought, 'God, I want to do this again for them.'

"I don't think you every get through [losing a child]. But I think my faith and belief in God are the key to everything. Just having a chance to do something I really love to do is also a motivating factor.

"I missed it a lot. I still kept track of the team, even when I was in the nursing home recuperating."

Guerrero, who has worked in Toledo Public Schools since 1985, served as Start's athletic director from 1991-99. Since 2001 he has been a special education teacher at the school. In his 10 seasons, the Spartans posted a 105-81 record.

When he left in 2008, just two weeks before the start of the season, Guerrero left behind a team that had two underclassmen players who would eventually earn Division I college scholarships - 6-foot-9 post player Devin Russell, who was red-shirted at the University of Toledo last season, and 2009-10 City League player of the year Anthony Henderson, a high-scoring 6-2 guard who has signed to play at Bowling Green this year.

The past two years, Start was guided by Guerrero's former assistant, Ted Pasqualone, who resigned in May after posting a 25-17 record in those seasons.

With Henderson and Russell leading the way, Start went 14-7 and reached the CL playoffs in 2008-09.

"I missed being a head coach in basketball," Guerrero said. "Being an assistant wasn't my cup of tea. [Owens head coach] Kevin Skaggs was a great guy to work for and it was a great situation, but I missed the kids here and being in charge of things. I missed helping the kids become solid citizens and great students."

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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