By: Greg Gulas
Current Boardman Schools Superintendent Tim Saxton said Moschella’s teams were always well-prepared. “A Coach Moschella team always played hard and intense,” Saxton added. “The secret to his success was how much he cared for those that he coached. Girls played hard for him and he could push them hard in games and practices because at the end of the day, his players knew he truly cared about them. He will be missed.”
Dave Smercansky was another BHS athletic director who witnessed his drive and intensity, first as an assistant for three years then for 12 more years at the helm of the school’s athletic department.
“If you didn’t know Mosch, you would probably roll your eyes and raise your eyebrows,” Smercansky added. “If you were fortunate enough to know him, however, you would quickly realize that he loved his players and had a passion for coaching. He would cry with the girls on senior night because of the relationship he had with each of them, knowing he would soon lose them as players when the season ended. He cared about everything and everybody, even when opposing players were injured.”
Former players revered their coach. “He made us all a part of his family,” stated Tanja Simione, a Spartan three-year letterwinner who went on to earn four more letters while starring at nearby Youngstown State University. “His three daughters were at most practices and his oldest, Christine, could handle the ball as good, if not better, than most of us. His wife, Judy, took care of us with her warm smile, letting us know how proud she was of us. I thank you, coach, because you helped make me a better person. He instilled strength, confidence and leadership in his players and those are life lessons that stay with you forever.
“For that, I will be forever grateful. Knowing that you are now reunited with your daughter, Christine, brings us all some peace. I know when we meet again you will probably remind me of that over and back violation my senior year. He simply loved all of us.”
Dr. Ashlee [Russo] Rohan, who was a three-year letterwinner for Moschella from 1999-2002, is currently a noted pulmonary and critical care doctor locally.
“It is hard to summarize a 25-year relationship with Mosh,” she noted. “He would best be known as my high school basketball coach but was much more than that to me. He was a mentor during my most impressionable years, always encouraging to me to have dreams and to chase them. He didn’t believe in meeting potential, he believed in exceeding it. As he transcends to his new journey, I hope he feels how loved he is by so many. I would especially like to extend my prayers and condolences to the Moschella family and to all of those he impacted.”
After a year away from the game, Moschella was hired by former Spartans’ and YSU football standout, Dr. Don Mook, Columbiana Exempted Village superintendent, to guide the Clippers girls’ basketball team.
In six seasons at the helm – he also coached the boy’s team in 2014-15, going 14-10 – Moschella went 130-21 (.861) with five league titles and six sectional championships.
“How do you not enjoy a guy who brings an unmatched passion to whatever he does,” Mook said. “I had two daughters play for him and one of his former players, Courtney Schiffauer, served as his assistant for us. He was a heck of a coach but an even better person. He surrounded himself with quality people and Courtney is now a pre-K physical education teacher at our Joshua Dixon Elementary School.”
Schiffauer played for Moschella from 2004-08, was a McDonald’s H.S. All-American nominee, the OHBCA Division I ‘Player of the Year’ as a senior, scored 2,000 points during her career and went on to earn a scholarship to Michigan State University.
“Coach Moschella was not only my coach and mentor, but he was also my best friend,” Schiffauer added. “It wasn’t always about basketball for him because he truly wanted me to be the best human being I could be. No one saw behind the scenes when he pushed me in the classroom, got me tutors if I needed one, fed me dinners after practices, consoled and counseled me when college basketball was mentally draining or when he called just to say hello and check on me.
“Our relationship didn’t end after high school. He continued to care and love me until the moment he left us. He changed my life by pushing me to my limits, mentally and physically, and I would not have had the success I had, then or now as an adult if it were not for him. As a coach, he pushed for women’s basketball to be treated with respect. We weren’t just girls playing a game in his eyes, we were people who deserved the recognition and accolades that we earned. He would put his teams up against boys, not only to make us better but to show people we could do it.
“Coach Moschella is the definition of high school girls’ basketball. He will not only be remembered for that and his accomplishments but also for his ever giving heart, his laugh, his hugs, his cologne and the passion he had for his players. I’m just glad he will be reunited with his beloved daughter, Christine, who I know he loved so much. I will forever cherish my time with coach and may his legacy live on forever.”
Part 3 Coming Soon
This article has been republished with permission by the Boardman News.