COLUMBIANA - Summer might just be around the corner, but Heartland Christian School is thinking about what winter and basketball might bring after the school filled out its basketball staffs this week.
The Lions hired Keith Tate, 36 of Toledo, as the head boys basketball coach and former United girls basketball assistant Chris Kadvan, 25, as the head girls basketball coach.
Tate replaces Andrew Bobalik who led the Lions to an 18-5 record last season. Bobalik revealed to the media in May that he was to be hired as a head boys basketball coach at Carrollton, but the Carrollton school district opted out of making the hiring official.
Heartland athletic director Susanne Shields said that it was too late to reconsider bringing Bobalik back because the interviewing and hiring process was already too far along.
"We were very blessed to have him and are grateful for what he did here," Shields said about Bobalik.
Shields said the school had nine applicants for the head boys job including one from New Mexico.
Tate, a 1995 Toledo Rogers High School graduate, impressed Heartland officials with his deep collegiate coaching background. A part of two years as a varsity assistant at Marion Franklin High School, Tate has spent time in various small college assistant roles throughout the country including becoming the interim head coach at Tiffin University in 2009. Tate's last coaching job was in 2010-11 as an assistant women's basketball coach at Lane College in Tennessee.
He said he found out about the Heartland job through the OHSAA job board and is excited to be back working with young people.
"College players are a little more adult and you don't have the opportunity to help them as much," Tate said. "This is an opportunity to develop these kids on a personal and athletic level."
Tate, who works as a recreational therapist and youth counselor at the Cuyahoga Juvenille Correctional Facility, said he is searching for work closer to the Columbiana area and would love to be involved with the youth of this community outside of basketball.
The former Kentucky Christian basketball player and Excelsior College graduate said he grew up as the son of a father and mother who were both ministers, so Heartland Christian appealed to his spiritual side. He hopes success follows on the basketball side of things.
"This is my first taste of small high school basketball, but I am going to bring a big time feel to it," Tate said.
Heartland also hired former Lordstown assistant coach Wesley Best as its boys junior varsity coach.
"I'm also looking to bring up one of my former college players to fill out the staff," Tate said.
Kadvan, a third grade teacher in the United Local school system, comes to the Heartland girls program fresh off the Eagles' Div. III district championship run. It was his second season on head coach Sam Mathias' bench and Kadvan said he learned a lot.
"I like to thank them all for the opportunity," Kadvan said. "I feel at this point that I'm ready to take on being in charge of a program."
Kadvan, a 2006 graduate of Struthers High School and a 2010 graduate of Westminster College, said he has been working closely with experienced coaches and feels confident that he can start building Heartland into a winner.
"I played one year under (former Struthers head coach) Joe Fuline in high school and he taught me a lot about what it takes to build a program," Kadvan said. "In fact, I am still close with him to this day and I hope to bring that Struthers blue collar work ethic as well as the winning ways I learned at United to Heartland."
Kadvan, who played basketball and baseball in high school, also served one year as a boys varsity assistant at Neshannock High School before coming to United.
He inherits a team that went 4-18 last season.
"The biggest thing will be change," the recently married Kadvan said. "We're going to come to them with different ideas and try to establish a new identity. There is some raw talent here. We're going to have our ups and downs, but hopefully we'll put it all together."