By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
There are competitors, then there is Nick Coffman.
A player addicted — in a healthy way — to competition so much that he never wants to lose.
At any time.
“Even in practice, you see it. Nick is going as hard as he can, because he doesn’t want to lose any of the drills,” veteran Mogadore boys basketball coach Russ Swartz said.
And Swartz knows a thing or two about the passion for competition.
There are a lot of topics that Swartz weaves his way through while talking about Coffman, a senior, who started his career as an undersized guard.
Coffman was short and thin, but still firey.
Swartz noticed it right way.
What Coffman may have lacked in height and strength, the diminutive guard made up for it with qualities that simply cannot be taught.
“Nick has always had a fire inside him,” Swartz said. “You wish you could coach that into players, but you can’t. He has something special about him like that. No matter what he needs to do or how hard he has to work in practice to prepare or what he needs to sacrifice for our team, he is willing to do it. Not many players have it like that and Nick does.”
Similar to most years, winning and Mogadore have been synonymous again in 2022-23.
Coffman, whose senior class actively has 57 basketball wins also finished their football careers with 39 victories, has helped lead the Wildcats to a 12-3 overall record and 5-2 in the Portage Trail Conference.
Mogadore’s league mark currently puts the team one game back of Warren JFK and St. Thomas Aquinas in the standings in the program’s quest for a seventh championship in eight years.
With the loss of starting senior forwards Mason Williams and Trevor Davis to injuries, Coffman has been required to increase his production across the board.
He has delivered.
Coffman is averaging 13.1 points per game and is among the leaders in Portage County for made free throws (39) and 3-pointers (31).
Coffman has transitioned from the small freshman to a 5-11 senior, whose size still does not tower over his opposition, but gets closer to the size of his confidence and charisma.
“Nick was a JV player that worked hard to to make his way up through the ranks,” Swartz said. “I have a lot of respect for that. You could see it happening, because he competes, challenges everything and challenges everybody. He is not going to back down.”
It is a mentality that Swartz is convinced started years before he began coaching him on the basketball team.
“I think a big part of Nick’s personality is the creation of being the little brother of two older brothers,” Swartz said. “Nick had to fight for everything and it made him stronger and tougher. Despite being physically smaller than his brothers, he had to fight for everything, and he found a way to always do that.”
Pushing toward a decade of excellence, the perspective is not much different than Mogadore’s success on the hardwood.
The Wildcats fight for everything and always seem to find a way.
“The hardest thing to do is maintain success,” Swartz said, “but it is players like Nick that have kept it going for as long as it has. They work hard, sacrifice for the team, commit to our system and lead by example for our underclassmen to see. There were players that did that before Nick that showed him and there will be players after Nick that learned from him and will show it to the next group under them.”