The Madison-Plains High School (MPHS) boys basketball program is need of a new leader.
That’s because coach Joe B. Stewart has resigned his position to take over the program at Greenfield McClain High School. Stewart had been the head of the MPHS program for the last three years. But the opportunity to return home to coach at McClain was too much to ignore.
“The opportunity to return to my alma mater, where I first became inspired to be a coach, just five minutes from our home, is an incredible blessing for my wife and I. I’ve coached North, South, East and West of McClain, and the relationships with my former players are my shiniest trophies.
“But something would have been missing from my career had I not had the opportunity to make a difference in lives in this school community. I built a career on the values of my two exceptional parents and the coaching and teaching examples I had at McClain.”
Saying good-bye to his MPHS team wasn’t an easy task. He took over a program in serious need of direction and helped the Eagles rebuild into a competitive program with a bright future.
“My meeting with my MP players was extremely hard,” Stewart said. “My three years have been an incredibly rewarding chapter for my wife and I. Our guys were extremely coachable, did their best to improve each day, and brought a competitive pride in basketball back into this community.
“Our 3 to 13 win season was fantastic, but so too was the first team that set an incredible high bar of work ethic, and this past year’s competitiveness with only one returning starter. The respect these young men gave to me and the process of working to be their best was a blessing I will miss.
“I’ve always felt that where you are is secondary to the direction you are moving. I’m proud of the radical change of direction of Golden Eagle basketball. Our players love the game, play hard, smart, together, and are unafraid of hard work and meet demands that are not demeaning. Seeds were planted that I believe will reap a harvest of success in the years to come if they stay the course. I enjoyed working for an administration that understood the value of athletics and how it fits into the fabric of a balanced education of raising tomorrow’s leaders, workers, husbands, fathers, and friends.”
The Golden Eagles were 7-14 this past season under Stewart. His departure means MPHS director of athletics Matt Mason will soon get started looking for the school’s next coach. He acknowledges that whoever takes over will have big shoes to fill. While Stewart only spent three years at Madison-Plains his impact was significant.
“Joe is an excellent individual, well beyond the coaching,” Mason said. “When we brought him in we liked his character and knew he would be able to help grow our young men. He did an excellent job.
“When he came in we were going through a lot of change. The passing of (coach Jeff) Spradlin, then Nathan Warner was here before leaving for Northeastern and Brett Prince left for Washington Court House. We were in the process of switching leagues so there was a lot going on. Joe came in and was a stabilizing force. He gave the boys confidence that we could make it through all of that.”
Mason said he will post the position with the OHSAA, Central District and the Ohio Department of Education. He said it may then be dependent as to what teaching positions will be available to offer to a new coach.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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