By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Joe Leonard spent the entire 2022-23 season as the interim coach of the Rootstowh Rovers girls basketball program.
As of April 17, the interim tag has been lifted and Leonard is now officially the Rovers’ head coach.
“I am very excited to be named the full-time head coach,” Leonard said. “I really enjoyed last season and can’t wait to get started this summer. The girls have been great, and I am blown away by the commitment level and worth ethic of this group.”
Leonard stepped in as acting head coach just before the start of last season when then-head coach John Zelenak took a leave of absence from the program for professional reasons.
Leonard coached the Rovers throughout the entire season and guided the group to a 15-5 overall record and undefeated 8-0 league-championship mark in Portage Trail Conference play.
“Coach Leonard did an outstanding job last season with our girls basketball team,” Rootstown athletic director Keith Waesch said. “His previous head coaching experience at Tallmadge High School certainly contributed to the smooth transition. We were very fortunate that we had someone of his caliber on staff, who could step in and not miss a beat with our girls.”
Leonard’s staff will include Brian Layton, who most recently was a varsity assistant at Louisville, along with middle-school coaches Dana Tingler (8th grade) and Kasidy Smith (7th grade). The staff’s junior-varsity position has not been filled yet.
Rootstown’s summer workouts have already begun with consistently high participation.
“We have several shootouts and scrimmages with nearby schools scheduled,” Leonard said. “The bulk of our work will be skill work and will be highlighted with a visit to HoopTech in North Ridgeville, but the major summer event for us is always the Eastern Ohio team camp. This is not a camp for every school, but these girls and staff just love the toughness and competitive level it brings out — so we will be bringing nearly 20 girls to this event.”
Congratulations Joe! Well earned! Good luck 🍀