With the start of any new high school basketball season, there are new coaches, both ones getting their first chance to lead a team, and ones returning to the bench after absences.
Leading the returning coaches will be Jeff Rasile at McDonald. One of the area's most successful coaches, Rasile is back after a one-season hiatus to spend time with his family.
"It was just the opportunity for the job opening up," said Rasile as to why he came back. "Coach (Brian) Higgins talked to me about coming back and him going back to a JV role. After I talked to everybody, it was the move I made."
Rasile went 164-28 in eight seasons with the Blue Devils. He led them as far as the Division IV regional finals and had a 63-game regular-season winning streak.
Rasile replaces Higgins, a former assistant who went 13-9 in his one season with the Blue Devils. Higgins will go back to being an assistant and junior varsity coach.
Due to the long-standing relationship between them, Rasile said the switch back to him from Higgins should be an easy one.
"It'll be a pretty smooth transition," Rasile said. "Even last year I was around the program a lot. I knew the kids. We did a lot of the same things. Brian coached with me for 12 years so we did a lot of the same things in practice."
A veteran coach returning to the bench will be Ron Price with the Niles boys. Price will be starting his second sting with the Red Dragons, having gone 84-71 from 1999-2006 and winning a pair of sectional championships and three district final appearances. He also went 18-5 in one season at Mathews.
His return is sorely needed, as Niles went 3-18 last season but returns five letterwinners.
"I teach there and I enjoy coaching a great deal," Price said. "I have a lot of kids in class, so I get to know them that way. When that opened up, I thought I'd come back and see if we'd get things going.
"It was a combination of all of that. Here it's a lot easier than running around to a lot of different schools. I could build a program and stay where I'm at. I really don't like bouncing around."
Another coach returning to his former job is Mike Karr, who is back at Southington after a four-season absence.
Karr was 138-81 as the Wildcats' coach from 1999-2008 but was forced to resign due to his job commitment.
"I never wanted to leave," he said. "I work outside the school and my job (as an insurance adjuster in Cleveland) required a lot of travel so I had to step down."
Karr spent his hiatus helping out with the junior high team, so he's familiar with the personnel he will have to work with this season. Southington went 5-16 a year ago.
"We've got a young team, a very young team," he said. "We have no returning starters from last year and only two kids that lettered. We've got a lot of young kids. We'll be starting two freshmen. The first two guys off the bench are freshmen and sophomores and we only have one senior on the team."
One of the first-time coaches is Frank Caputo at Warren G. Harding, who spent the last four seasons as an assistant to P.J. Notar and the prior five at Girard before getting his first opportunity this season.
Caputo said it will be difficult replacing Notar, who went 180-105 and led the Raiders to a Division I district championship.
"It's tough. He did a very good job here," Caputo said of his former boss. "Very disciplined program. It's not easy following a guy like that, but we're a very young team. Going to use the building blocks and we'll see some success later on down the road.
Caputo's head-coaching career got off to a tough start on Monday, as Harding committed 40 turnovers in a 60-33 loss at Lakeview. He said the Raiders will need to make adjustments to turn their season around.
"We've got to change our focus and our discipline through four quarters," Caputo said. "We got a little lackadaisical out there, and a good team like this is going to take advantage of that."
Harding has two major holes to fill from last season, as Anita Brown and Brianna McCurdy have graduated, taking a combined 47 points per game with them. Caputo said he has several players in mind to fill the void.
"I see in the next couple games Rai'Ale Chatmon, Troi Simpson, Maya Bell, Audrey Baldridge, those four to really take control of this team and get us moving in the right direction," he said.
Other new boys coaches are Andrew Vlajkovich (Warren G. Harding), Craig Hannon (Girard), Craig Mild (Lakeview), Chris Kohl (Mineral Ridge), Bill Kovach (Brookfield), Brian Danilor (Cardinal Mooney), Michael Szenborn (Campbell Memorial) and Pat Birch (Boardman).
The new girls coaches are Amy Dolsak (McDonald), Kacie Mosora (Hubbard) and John Matisi (Mineral Ridge).