It was simply too good of an opportunity to pass on, so Wilmington High School boys basketball coach Michael Noszka is headed to St. Xavier High School.
After 14 seasons and more than 200 victories, Noszka will no longer lead the Hurricane program.
“It’s been a really good 14 years,” Noszka said Wednesday afternoon. “I wasn’t looking to leave. There’s a short list of schools I’d leave for. St. X is at the top of the list.”
Noszka was scheduled to meet with the St. Xavier players Thursday after telling the members of the Hurricane program.
“There’s a lot of people down there (St. Xavier) showing great faith by hiring me,” said Noszka. “It was a very competitive interview process.”
“We wish coach Noszka all the best at St X,” WHS athletic director Troy Diels said. “Hurricane basketball became well respected around the state under Mike’s leadership. He had a tremendous impact on our kids, past and present, not only on the basketball court, but also teaching our kids life lessons. We will certainly miss him as part of our coaching family at WHS and wish him all the best with this new opportunity.”
Noszka and the Hurricane were 227-98 in 14 seasons with 26 championships – nine Clinton County, nine conference, five sectional, two district and one regional. Not only is he the winningest varsity basketball coach in WHS history, but Noszka is the longest tenured varsity boys basketball head coach, dating back to the 1923-24 season. Amos Smith was WHS head coach for nine seasons from 1931-32 to 1939-40
Noszka said his family plans to remain Wilmington residents, with both his daughter and son staying in Wilmington City Schools.
“I hope the people in Wilmington treat my family and I as one of their own,” he said. “We’re staying. We like living here. We’ve always liked living here. The drive’s not bothering me. In today’s world, you can get a lot done on the road.”
Noszka came to Wilmington from Wabash, Ind. in 2005. He took over from Jeff Stevenson who compiled a 63-65 record in seven seasons at WHS.
He led the Hurricane to 84 wins in his first 109 games. After a couple of down seasons – winning just 14 games – Wilmington was back on the uptick with a 90-16 mark over four seasons. The final game in that run came in the OHSAA Division I state semifinal round against Lima Senior. WHS was defeated 61-58 to end a 27-2 campaign.
Noszka was courted by several schools following the Final Four season but he remained steadfast in his desire to stay with the WHS program rather than just take “any” big school job.
It had to be the “right” job and St. Xavier, three years later, is the “right” job.
“No. 1, and people may not see this on the sidelines on Friday nights, but I’m a very devout Christian Catholic,” Noszka said. “I went to Catholic school all the way through high school. No. 2 the academic rigor down there (St. Xavier) is very good. Academics are important.
“The next thing is the type of players they would have in their program are the type of players that would fit well into the system of play we’ve had in Wilmington … smart, tough, athletic kids.”
Noszka said St. Xavier, a private school located in northern Cincinnati, has 1,600 boys in its high school. According to OHSAA enrollment figures as of Oct. 31, 2018 for boys in grades 9-11, St. Xavier has 1,083 boys compared to 349 for Wilmington.
“We’re going to be able to find kids who are going to play the right way,” said Noszka. “It’s a great school. Not good, but great. We want to be on par with the best teams in the state every year.”
Noszka and the Bombers get that chance multiple times a year. As a member of the Greater Catholic League, St. Xavier plays Cincinati’s Archbishop Moeller twice a year. The Crusaders have won the previous two Division I state basketball championships.
St. Xavier, on the other hand, is just 3-33 in its last 36 GCL games, Noszka said.
“I have a lot of work to do,” he said. “I love basketball. It’s exciting to get to work on building a culture in their basketball program. It’s won’t be work for me because I love doing it.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports