By Josh Brown
TROY — Tony Ferraro knows a good opportunity when he sees one.
“I was in a terrific situation coaching Brookville’s girls basketball team, and now I’m coming into a terrific situation here at Troy Christian,” he said. “They opened their arms to me, and I’m excited to be here.”
The former Wayne and Brookville girls basketball coach — and current Troy Christian baseball coach — will take over the Eagles’ girls basketball team after the departure of former coach Dick Steineman, who coached the team for the past five seasons.
Ferraro said he accepted the job during baseball season, while guiding his Eagles to a Metro Buckeye Conference title — and he’s more than used to coaching girls basketball and baseball at the same time.
“(Troy Christian Athletic Director) Mr. (Jeff) Sakal and (Superintendent) Dr. (Gary) Wilbur offered me the job during baseball season, and I loved the opportunity,” Ferraro said. “I coached Wayne’s girls team for 20 years and its baseball team for 25, then after I retired from there I’ve been with Brookville’s girls for the past five years, as well as here with Troy Christian baseball for the last two years.
“I’ve done it (coached baseball and girls basketball at the same time) for the past 20-plus years. They’re back-to-back seasons, so it’s a situation where I have to make sure I organize my time and give 100 percent to both programs.”
And that’s something he already likes about his Troy Christian players, too.
“The first thing I really liked is how dedicated all of the girls are,” Ferraro said. “We’ve had a full schedule this month. The girls have been in here in the gym working on their skills. Last weekend we played in a shootout at National Trail and were very competitive, and this weekend we’re going to a 24-team shootout at Bluffton. Monday we’ll be at Greenville, Tuesday at Piqua — we’ve been playing a lot of basketball.
“I’m very pleased with the work ethic of the kids. They’ve taken to instruction well, as we’re teaching them a whole new way to play basketball — trapping, pressing, running the fast break, running sets out of our secondary break. We’re doing new things that they’ve been interested in doing.”
The Eagles performed well under Steineman during his tenure with the team. After a two-win season in 2010-11, Troy Christian went 8-13 in his first season back with the team, then had a winning record each of the next four seasons, winning a minimum of 14 games each year. Last season, Troy Christian went 14-7 despite the sudden departure of two players early in the year and a season-ending injury to senior point guard Meredith Haddad late.
Steineman will remain in the program, coaching the eighth-grade team.
“He did such a great job preparing these kids,” Ferraro said. “I offered him the eighth-grade job and he took it, so he’ll still be instrumental in getting our young girls ready to come up to the high school level.”
Friday, Ferraro and company were finishing up a youth camp at Troy Christian, where 30 youth players between incoming grades 4 through 8 worked on their basic skills and the expectations that the team will have. And each day of the camp, between eight and 10 of the Eagles’ current varsity high school players were on hand to serve as counselors.
“My counselors ran the show, really,” Ferraro said. “In practice, I’d show them how I wanted it ran, and then we let them do it. The young girls look at them all like WNBA players, and our players really liked showing them all what they know. Our high school girls got as much out of the camp as the younger players.
“These kids are out future. We’re really stressing the fundamentals this year and have been practicing hard. We’re building every year, and we want to teach them at a young age how to do the basics and fundamentals, that way when they get up to the high school, they’re ready to take the next step.”
And the Eagle program as a whole looks ready to take the next step, too, thanks to a solid foundation.
“I’m very fortunate that past coaches set this up to be such a good program,” Ferraro said. “I won’t need to start over from scratch. I’ll just be able to step right in and take the reins.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.