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Sarchione Chevrolet Garrettsville’s Getting to Know: Rootstown girls basketball’s Joe Leonard

Sarchione Chevrolet Garrettsville’s Getting to Know: Rootstown girls basketball’s Joe Leonard


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


“Getting to Know” is an ongoing series created to spotlight the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Today, we get to know Rootstown High School girls basketball head coach Joe Leonard, who is in his second season leading the Rovers.


Q: Hometown?


A: Parma Heights, Ohio.



Q: High school?

A: Holy Name High School. Class of 1988. Played basketball.



Q: College?

A: University of Toledo. Class of 1992. Degree in Business Administration and Marketing.



Q: Current occupation?

A: Retired in 2021.



Q: What inspired you to become a coach?

A: I have always loved the sport and growing up, my mom was a youth basketball coach. I was a basketball official for years until I finally got into coaching.



Q: What makes being a coach at Rootstown special to you?

A: Rootstown is a special place because of the community. I like the blue-collar work ethic and the “us against the rest” mentality.



Q: Who has been your biggest influence?

A: Pat Teresi. When he was at Padua, he really showed me what it is like to care about your players, while Jeff Huber at Holy Name was excellent at preparation and time management. To this day, I still contact Jeff for advice.



Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your playing days?

A: I am 6-foot-6, but in high school, I was very short, including being 5-foot-2 as a freshman and around 6-foot when I graduated.



Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your coaching career?

A: Last season, an official congratulated me on winning 700 games. He thought I was Denny Schrock of Chippewa. I told him that I have 17 career wins.



Q: Favorite TV show?

A: Any sports documentary.



Q: Favorite movie?

A: Saving Private Ryan.



Q: Favorite musical artist?

A: Anything country.



Q: Favorite food?

A: Italian.



Q: Best vacation?

A: Italy or Iceland.



Q: Favorite motto?

A: Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt.



Q: Describe your coaching philosophy?

A: My coaching philosophy is to get to know my players and for my players to have a great experience playing for me. I try to have a calm approach, and win or lose, we do it with class.



Q: Favorite restaurant?

A: Cheesecake Factory.



Q: Favorite teacher from high school?

A: Mr. Gayle (business class).



Q: Advice you would give the younger version of yourself?

A: Don’t worry about others’ opinion of you.



Q: Coaching resume?

A: Padua Franciscan, JV boys coach (5 years); Holy Name freshman boys (3 years); Strongsville JV boys coach (1 year); Tallmadge varsity girls coach (2 years); Rootstown varsity girls coach (2nd year).



Q: Favorite sports team?

A: Denver Broncos.



Q: Favorite athlete then?

A: Larry Nance.



Q: Favorite athlete now?

A: Actually, it is a coach: Tony Bennett.



Q: First job as a teenager?

A: Dishwasher at St. John Bosco.



Q: Family member that always gave you the best advice?

A: My mom and dad.



Q: Favorite candy?

A: Junior Mints.



Q: First car?

A: 1978 Chevy Nova.



Q: Best friends?

A: Kelly Norton. I also have friends that I still keep in touch with from Kindergarten.



Q: Most memorable moment as a coach?

A: Clinching the Portage Trail Conference championship last season at Southeast.

1 Comment

  1. Kathleen Bradley November 22, 2023

    Congratulations Joe! I’m sure you’re a great influence on all the players you have coached! 🏀🏀🏀❤️❤️❤️


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