By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Shortly after being named the new boys basketball coach at Rootstown High School, Bobby Staudt sat at his computer and put his emotions into words.
What he crafted was a full-page letter to the township that outlined his excitement, his hope to connect with the community and his hope that game nights result in a jam-packed gymnasium.
“If there is one characteristic that will describe each member of our program, it will be one that has described the people of Rootstown for over 200 years … tough,” Staudt wrote.
“I can promise you one thing when you come to watch us play. You will be proud of how hard our student-athletes compete.”
The same enthusiasm that could be pulled from reading Staudt’s letter is also evident when he talks about his first opportunity to be a head coach.
Staudt will celebrate his 25th birthday on Saturday and graduated from Green High School in 2017, where he played football, basketball and baseball. While attending the University of Akron (Math degree in grades 7-12), he joined the Bulldogs’ football staff as a quarterbacks coach, while also joining the basketball and baseball staffs as a varsity assistant.
Now, he is the head coach.
“Obviously, I am really excited for this opportunity,” Staudt said. “I feel like Rootstown is a great community and the community really cares about its kids and its sports.”
Staudt takes over the program following the resignation of Cody Calhoun, who spent five seasons leading the Rovers.
Calhoun, who is also a Green High School graduate, was the freshman coach during Staudt’s senior season with the Bulldogs.
“Cody and I have a good relationship, and he has been very helpful during these first couple of weeks helping me get organized with things. He has been instrumental throughout this process.”
A process that has been a whirlwind for Staudt, who has attacked it with his proven work ethic and ability to stay organized.
After accepting the job, Staudt had assembled his staff and hammered out a summer schedule for the program in less than a week.
Staudt’s varsity assistants will be Chuck Palmer and Matt Patrick, who also were part of Calhoun’s staff. Mike Fillmore will step in to coach the junior varsity and the middle-school program will be led by the return of Joe Siciliano (7th grade) and recent Rootstown graduates Brandan Nicholas and Dom Shipp (8th grade).
“There has definitely been a lot to do, but when you get the job in the last week of May and have to build out a summer schedule from scratch, you just have to find a way to get it done,” said Staudt, who was selected in a process that included 20 applicants, according to Rootstown athletic director Keith Waesch. “Ideally, you would have something like that done a long time ago, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how quick our staff was able to pull together and work together to get things done.”
With the logistical stuff figured out, Staudt now plans to turn his attention to rebuilding the Rovers.
And he is going to start with defense.
“It will be really simple here. If you don’t defend, then you won’t play,” Staudt said. “We want to be tough physically and mentally and that starts on defense. It takes zero skill to play defense, and we have to get get to a point that defense will be the strength of our team.”
Offensively, Staudt, who credits Green coaches Mark Kinsley, Mark Geis and Jon Wallace as integral mentors, is prepared to be patient and plans to use the summer as an opportunity to evaluate his roster.
“Our offense will be based on the kids we have and what we see throughout the summer,” he said. “Once we evaluate what we see, we will build sets and build around the players we have and what they do well.”
Regardless, Staudt is firm in his belief that the future of Rootstown basketball is a future that everyone on the roster and everyone in the community will have ownership of.
“The No. 1 thing to understand is that it is going to take everyone,” he said. “We need everyone to be excited and want to buy in.”
Good luck this season!!!