By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Signs of appreciation seem to peak for parents when their children are in school.
When they are competing across multiple sports, filling up daily schedules with games, practices, training sessions and more.
And, rightfully so.
Especially when their children are too young to be their own mode of transportation and schedules are constantly being juggled to make it all work.
However, as children grow into adults, the parents never stop supporting their children.
Even into adulthood.
The basketball coaches of Portage County know that because they live it.
Many of the parents to the county’s coaches still come to all of their games — or as many as physically possible — to cheer and support their child with the same love they did when they were the young ones playing.
Today, we meet those parents through the words and stories of the coaches themselves.
Because saying thank you, genuinely, still has an impact on people no matter how old you get.
CRESTWOOD BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH JOSH JAKACKI
Mother: June Jakacki.
Father: Mark Jakacki.
“Throughout my entire playing and coaching career, my parents have been one of my biggest supporters,” Josh Jakacki said. “As a player, they rarely missed a middle school, high school or college game of mine. I have always appreciated their sacrifice of time and money for me to reach my goals. They offered words of encouragement and, honestly, never said anything negative that deterred me from doing what I loved. They supported my commitment as a player and wanted me to reach my fullest potential. They sent me to many camps and built a basketball court at our house. As a coach, they have traveled to many games both at Crestwood, Kenston and back to Crestwood. My dad is always willing to offer support after games and my my mom always has a hug.
“Although my parents didn’t coach, they showed me that in order to succeed, you need to work hard. My parents worked many jobs to make ends meet and provide us with what we needed. They taught me to be accountable and show up for a good day’s work. My dad used to tell us, ‘If everything was easy, everyone would be doing it.’ There are no shortcuts in life and they showed through their commitment to family that they would do anything for us.”
FIELD GIRLS BASKETBALL
COACH JOHN MISENKO
Mother: Janice Misenko.
Father: John Misenko Sr.
“My mother passed away the year I started teaching and about the time I started coaching,” John Misenko said. “She was at every game I played in high school. I want to thank my father for always being at every game I ever played in, starting in fourth grade and continuing through high school. I will never forget us going to breakfast and driving to my games on Saturday and Sunday mornings at Chanel High School in Bedford.
“Although my parents never coached, they coached me on life. They always made me work for everything and held me accountable, even when I complained or got frustrated. Looking at it now as a coach, I appreciate the hard work and dedication that my parents instilled in me, and I think that has helped me to grow as a person.”
GARFIELD BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH ANDREW OLESKY
Mother: Joette Olesky.
Father: Stanley Olesky.
“There are two major things that stick out to me about my parents from my life in basketball,” Andrew Olesky said. “I have been involved in every winter in basketball since third grade, and I can honestly say that they NEVER missed a game in which I played and they rarely miss a game that I have been a coach. That is a span of almost 30 years and that is absolutely amazing, and I am so beyond grateful for their support and love over that time. Not only in basketball, but in life. The other is their continuous love, feedback, criticism and guidance. They are my biggest fans and yet my biggest critics, and they’re not afraid to let me know both good and bad. I have been told everything from ‘great game’ to a stern critique on how I dressed for a game. While sometimes they think I am annoyed at their comments, they need to know that I am truly grateful.
“Neither of my parents were coaches. However, it is very safe to say that both of their careers have impacted me beyond belief — both personally and professionally as a teacher and coach. My mother spent over 35 years as a teacher and my father is a United States Marine, and I emphasize is. They have always instilled in me the value of hard work, dedication, doing the right thing, high standards and giving your absolute best no matter what the circumstances are. I really do believe that these attributes are also presently instilled in me, as I strive to do those things as a coach and have our basketball teams at Garfield exude the same characteristics. Whether the know it or not, they impact what kind of team we are.”
GARFIELD GIRLS BASKETBALL
COACH AARON GILBERT
Mother: Nancy Gilbert.
Father: Steve Gilbert.
“My parents are both retired and drive two-and-a-half hours (one way) to come to several games a year, but make it a point to be at all the tournament games no matter the distance,” Aaron Gilbert said. “Just having them there, win or lose, is very special to me and does not go unnoticed. I thank them for the support they give me during the season and beyond. I love both of them very m uch.
“My dad was a high school football coach, and I coached with him after I graduated for several years. I also went to practices and was a ball boy and equipment manager growing up and remember going to two-a-days as early as first and second grade to help set up, organize and fix players’ equipment. It helped me learn how to treat my players and coaches and grow my current coaching skills and philosophy.”
KENT ROOSEVELT BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH CURTIS BLACK
Mother: Cassandra Black.
Father: Cameron Black Sr.
“I am extremely thankful for my parents for the love and support they have given me over the years,” Curtis Black said. F”rom traveling every weekend for AAU basketball tournaments from age 9 to 17, now to my adult years, they rarely miss an opportunity to see me coach. They are always providing me with unconditional love and support.
“My dad coached boys and girls high school track and field and basketball. The day my mother gave birth to me was the day of a track meet that my father was supposed to coach. Some of my favorite memories of my dad coaching, from my younger years, were the bus rides with his teams for away games and being their watery for a number of years. Often, my brother and I would be able to shoot around with the teams during halftime and in pregame and that was always fun. As a player, my favorite memories were from my sophomore year, as I got to share the floor with my brother, who was a senior, with our father coaching. I know those were special moments for both of my parents.
“Although my mom didn’t coach, she was just as much of a voice in my athletic career as my dad. Sh was often the first game critique I wanted to hear and the person who uplifted me through the difficult times. It’s often hard to sometimes separate dad from coach, but my mom was always moms and was always in the neutral role, which I loved. I can’t thank her enough for being such a rock for my dad, my brother and myself through all of our basketball journeys.”
KENT ROOSEVELT GIRLS BASKETBALL
COACH CRAIG FOREMAN
Mother: Diana Foreman.
Father: Jim Foreman.
“They both have had a huge influence on me in terms of my coaching style and philosophy,” Craig Foreman said. “They truly have been the biggest influence on me to do things for others first and to never give up. My mother has always been the one that has put into me the desire to help those in need and to be a strong advocate for civil rights and caring for others. My father has always been the one to push me to persevere no matter what is going on. Perseverance leading to success in life and to push for that in others.
“When I think about those two traits, I truly see both of those coming through in my teaching and coaching mindset and style, and I am forever grateful to them for that. Although neither of my parents coached, the sport and basketball blood flows from them to m. My dad was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball), who truly excelled at each. My mother’s mom, my grandmother, has a claim to fame as being one of the first female basketball players in her small town in West Virginia and was recognized for her ability to play the game in a time when girls were not. Myself, coaching girls now for 17 years, I think of my grandmother and how she would be proud.”
MOGADORE BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH RUSS SWARTZ
Mother: Jan Swartz.
Father: Larry Swartz.
“They have been married for 60 years,” Russ Swartz said. “Our dad is a retired teacher and coach, with over 30 years experience with Springfield High School. It was instilled in us at an early age that if were going to participate in sports, we were going to practice and play the right way. Not just during the season, but in the off-season as well. Since were young, our family has always been considered a basketball family. We can remember attending games as very young kids to watch our dad coach. Our parents continue to attend the majority of Mogadore High School basketball games.
“When Rod was the head coach at Norton, they would either alternate games or one would attend Mogadore game and one would attend the Norton game,” Swartz said. “Coaching together at Norton for 14 years and again at Mogadore the past six years has made it easier on our parents to attend games. They were always at our games while playing youth, junior high and high school basketball. Our dad was involved in coaching at different levels along the way. They continued to support when we attended Hiram College. I believe the only time they missed a game was when we qualified for the Division III National Tournament. We were sent to Vermont to play and because of a snowstorm, they could not get there. As husbands, fathers, educators and coaches, we use some of the same strategies and philosophies that they taught and instilled in us as young people. Thank you, mom and dad.”
MOGADORE GIRLS BASKETBALL
COACH JENNIFER RITCH
Mother: Mary Kishton.
Father: Bill Ritch.
“My parents were always supportive of my athletics as a child and up through high school,” Jennifer Ritch said. “My dad was often one of my coaches in youth sports, especially in basketball and softball, and has been my assistant coach since becoming the head coach at Mogadore. They were really great about supporting me in any way they could, whether it be through helping coach, driving me to practices and games, making sure I had the shoes and equipment I needed and always coming to cheer at the games. My mom was definitely my go-to for emotional support and she still is to this day. While she is not the biggest sports fan, she is always the biggest fan of her three children, who were all involved in multiple sports. She was very involved in the athletic boosters for all three of us in high school to show her support, as well.
“My dad was my coach for basketball in grades 4 through 8, and he was one of my softball coaches for the same time period. I obviously learned a lot about playing the game of basketball from him as a youth and owe my love of the game to growing up and watching his passion for the game. It’s always cool to see our relationship come full circle and now that we are both adult coaches, I still rely on his knowledge of the game, his support of me, and I continue to admire his passion that has never wavered over his long coaching career.”
RAVENNA BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH MARLON JONES
Mother: Eldora Jones.
Father: Keith Jones aka “Boss KJ.”
“I appreciate my parents for being present and very involved with me, for teaching values and morals as a child,” Marlon Jones said. “I appreciate the support they gave me in my studies, as well as the sports I played from youth to college. My mom made several trips up to the school — sometimes it was in support of me and other times it was to put me in my place.
“My dad coached my youth football team, as well as coached basketball at many levels. Going to his practices and watching him coach inspired me to want to do the same. I was the ball boy, which was a big deal, made me feel like part of the team. It also allowed me to build lifelong relationships with the guys such as Ben Dunlap, who I consider my big brother. I love both of my parents dearly. Mom, you did a great job raising me, and I appreciate all you have done and continue to do. I hope I have made you proud. Rest in peace, dad (Boss KJ).”
ROOTSTOWN BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH CODY CALHOUN
Mother: Sherry Calhoun.
Father: Rick Calhoun.
“My parents have always been supportive of my siblings and me in whatever endeavors we have decided to chase,” Cody Calhoun said. “Growing up, my parents provided us with every opportunity to participate in whatever it was we wanted to do. I will always be appreciative of the support, time and commitment that they dedicated to me growing up and still show to this day. My parents have been some of my biggest supporters throughout all of the ups and downs that life has to offer.
“My dad coached me in youth basketball, as well as ran Green Youth Basketball of for a number of years. This is something that we still bond over to this day. I remember spending countless hours at the Green Youth Tournament each year, even when I was in middle and high school. I also used to attend some of the youth meetings as a kid and this allowed me to see how one of the most successful youth programs operates behind the scenes.”
SOUTHEAST BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH MIKE MATISI
Mother: Laraine Matisi.
Father: Tony Matisi.
“My parents have supported me in any and every endeavor I have decided to take on,” Mike Matisi said. “They have been married 40-plus years and are the embodiment of love and hard work.
“My mom was the one who got my dad into coaching. She began her career as a physical education teacher and was hired to coach the seventh and eighth grade girls basketball team at Lowellville. She asked my dad to assist her. She ended up stepping aside, and he took over for the next eight years. She later became the Lowellville cheerleading coach, as she was a cheerleader at Youngstown State. My dad is still the winningest girls basketball coach at Lowellville,. He has also coached at Ursuline, South Range and McDonald and has more than 500 career wins, an envious amount of league and district titles and was the state runner-up in 2021.”
SOUTHEAST GIRLS BASKTEBALL
COACH CRAIG NETTLETON
Mother: Sara Nettleton.
Father: George Nettleton.
“My parents lovingly supported me as an athlete and coach,” Craig Nettleton said. “They attended all of my games and continued this through my coaching days before passing. It was nothing for them to travel hours away to watch my teams play.
“My dad enjoyed watching my girls teams every bit as much as the boys — and maybe more. As a Christmas gift, my sons purchased my dad a ticket to come with us to Florida and watch my Field (girls) team play in a tournament. He was such a familiar face at games that my Southeast girls got him a Christmas gift. Both teams lovingly would call him Grandpa George. My parents were mine and our teams’ greatest fans. I couldn’t have had it any better.”
STREETSBORO BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH NICK MARCINI
Mother: Joanne Marcini.
Father: Nate Marcini.
“I appreciate how involved they have been in everything over the years,” Nick Marcini said. “Not only while I was growing up and playing, but also, still today, as I am coaching. You could probably count on one hand how many games they missed in my playing days. Even in the lsat 20 years of coaching, they have not missed many. It was not until the pandemic and all this live streaming that they might skip some of the far games.
“My mom was always involved in the booster club, and she actually spent time as the Booster Club President for awhile working alongside Gary Huber. I have a much older sister and brother, as well, who cheered and wrestled, so you can go back to the mid to late 1980’s for as long as mom has been involved with Streetsboro sports.
“My dad coached me and my brother up through little league basketball. He still likes to offer his suggestions after each of our games now. They are both still very much involved as they both serve as the team laundresses, washing the uniforms after every game and have been known to serve up a big pot of pasta on occasion for team dinner.”
STREETSBORO GIRLS BASKETBALL
COACH CARL SINGER
Mother: Susan Singer-Keesbury.
Father: Rex Keesbury.
“They have always supported me with my coaching by coming to games and just talking to me about how the team is doing,” Carl Singer said. “Living three hours from Streetsboro definitely does not make it easy for them to see our games, but they always make it to a few each year.
“Neither of my parents coached anything past youth sports, but some of my favorite times in high school were trips with my stepdad and friends to the basketball state tournaments. Those were the years that LeBron played and it was fun to see him down there every year, along with all the other great teams. I loved the sport already, but watching great basketball at that level really made mw aunt to be a high school head coach someday.”
WATERLOO BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH JASON WISE
Mother: Diane Wise.
Father: Tim Wise.
“My parents have been involved with Waterloo basketball since the early 1980’s. They are the reason I fell in love with basketball. I remember my mom telling my dad that he couldn’t get thrown out, because I was going to the game with him. I’m positive they have only missed a handful of games since 1985, when we are involved in the program. Now, they don’t miss because of their grandkids. Neither coached, mom played at Randolph High School before girls sports were officially recognized and only three of the five girls could cross half court. The support they have shown us over the years is unmatched.”
WINDHAM BOYS BASKETBALL
COACH CODY APTHORPE
Mother: Nita Apthorpe.
Father: Dave Apthorpe.
“My parents continue to sincerely support, not only our own family, but the entire Bomber athletic community,” Cody Apthorpe said. “They are deeply involved in our student-athletes’ lives both on and off the playing field, court or course. This commitment to our community is one of the driving forces that has encouraged me to follow in their example.
“My dad was the varsity girls coach when I was growing up, which eventually turned into the coach of the freshman team and assistant on the JV and varsity bench. My mom has worked in the school as a secretary for over 20 years, continuously being involved with our youth throughout those decades.”
This was a great read for me- to have the coaches speak of the parental support that they have received in their playing and coaching careers- I am Cody Calhoun’s das and I have followed his playing career at Green and then his coaching career at Green and Rootstown – it keeps me involved in my life long love of sports