Despite the recommendation of athletic director Jim Marsh, the East Clinton Board of Education decided Monday Tony Berlin would not return to the boys basketball program as the varsity head coach.
In a 4-1 vote, the board turned down the hiring of Berlin for a sixth year at East Clinton. Tim Starkey was the only board member to vote in favor of Berlin.
The Astros were 25-89 in Berlin’s tenure, but just 3-42 the past two seasons. Berlin replaced Scott Streber as the head coach in April 2015.
“The last two years have taken its toll on all of us,” he said.
Berlin said he always considers his future as a coach at the end of each season but once he was told, by Marsh, the board was going to non-renew him for the job, he decided to stand firm.
“I’m not going to resign for sure,” said Berlin, a member of the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame. “I left the ball in their court. I love coaching. I love coaching these kids.
“Every year since I’ve had cancer five years ago, I’ve waited until my yearly (cancer) results are back at the end of April before I make my ultimate decision,” said Berlin, who was a long-time assistant at Wilmington High School. “I get away from it. I think about it.
“Of course, the coronavirus hit and that hampered with meeting with the team.”
Berlin said he was willing to remain the head coach even though the talent pool was not going to provide East Clinton with a realistic chance of winning in the coming years.
“I didn’t want to be known as the coach who left because the talent was down,” he said.
Berlin said he may coach in the future but hasn’t made any decisions.
“Right now, with the sour taste in my mouth, I need a break,” he said.
After two years in the South Central Ohio League, Berlin guided East Clinton’s transition to the SBAAC. It wasn’t easy. Both leagues provided stiff competition for the Astros.
This winter, if he does not coach, Berlin will be on the sidelines for the first time in 55 years.
“I will be 62 years old and this coming winter this is the first time since I was 7 years old that I’m not involved with some sort of team,” said Berlin. “That’s going to be hard.”
Berlin said coaches like Jim Staley, Norm Persin, Michael Noszka and Mike Price have influenced him over the years.
In the end, Berlin wanted to leave East Clinton, the school that gave him his first varsity head coaching position, with this thought.
“East Clinton … thanks and good luck in the future,” he said. “There are those that know. There are those that don’t know and there are those that don’t know that they don’t know.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports