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Charleroi stays in-house for coaching hires

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Joe Grodz got a sample of being a head girls' basketball coach last year a few games when he stepped in at Charleroi for ailing head coach Nick Mahalko.

He guided the Lady Cougars for six games and then did a lot of the in-game coaching after Mahalko came back.

This season, he will be running the program full-time.

Grodz and Chad Alexis will be taking over the reigns of Charleroi's varsity girls' basketball and wrestling teams, respectively. The two top assistants are running the conditioning programs and will be officially hired retroactively by the Charleroi School Board next week.

“I got a little taste last season and I really enjoyed it,” said Grodz, who served as Mahalko's assistant for eight years. “When I got a chance to do it, I definitely liked it. I'm really excited to get started.”

Grodz takes over for Mahalko, who resigned after nine years as the head coach.

Alexis was the assistant wrestling coach for Dave Nelson last year. Nelson did not return.

Charleroi Athletic Director Bill Wiltz said he was happy with the choices.

“There will be consistency in both programs with them taking over,” Wiltz said. “The kids will know what to expect because they have been around them.”

Wiltz said he feels comfortable with both new coaches.

“Sometimes a new direction is a good thing, but in this case I think this was the right thing to do,” he said.

Grodz will have a veteran team that returns six juniors who, at one time or another were starters as sophomores.

“We have a good nucleus coming back,” Grodz said.

Grodz, who lives in California and is a teacher in the Charleroi School District, said fans won't notice much of a difference when the Lady Cougars take the floor for the 2012-13 season.

“Nick had a great system in place and I don't plan on changing things much,” Grodz said. “I learned a lot from him. Really, I have big shoes to fill.

‘We both had the same philosophy of adjusting to the talent that we had to put the kids in the best position to be successful.”

Alexis will be coaching as a head coach for the first time.

A native of Kane, he lives in Charleroi and also served as an assistant football coach at Charleroi the past season.

“I'm really excited to get going,” he said. “We've been getting 12-to-14 kids in conditioning and the big thing I want to do is get as many kids in the program I can who will stick around for a while.

“I want to get the kids some experience and get them on the mat. It's important for us to keep the numbers up.”

Both teams will begin officially practicing Nov. 16.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or joliver@tribweb.com.

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