After months of consternation, the Palmerton High School boys' basketball team finally has a mentor in place.
The school board unanimously agreed n a 9-0 vote on Tuesday to appoint Michael Stefanek as head boys' basketball coach at a salary of $5,901.
Last month, a motion to appoint Mark Maholick to the post died for lack of a majority vote after the school board deadlocked 4-4 with one abstention.
Maholick - who ended this past season as the team's interim coach - was chosen in January to replace Mike Snyder, who began the season as the team's head coach.
Snyder was hired in June of 2008 to replace Ridge Hughes, who had coached the team the previous two seasons. He also coached the team in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.
Stefanek, a 7th grade social studies teacher in the Palmerton School District for 14 years, was head coach of the Marian boys basketball team for 11 seasons prior to resigning last summer. He compiled a record of 165-124 to becoming the winningest boys mentor in school history. Eight of the 11 seasons, the Colts finished with a winning record and won the District 11 Class A championship in his final season.
"I'm really excited," said Stefanek, when contacted after being approved for the job. "I think it's going to be more of a transition on my part than the kids part since I'll be coaching a different style of player, and coaching against bigger schools in the Colonial League night in and night out.
"I've had them in the classroom so instead of it being Mr. Stefanek now, it will be Coach Stefanek. They knew what I expected from them in the classroom, now it will carry on to the court. They'll know what I expect of them.
"There's been a good foundation laid here since a lot of these kids have played together for quite some time and are fundamentally sound so we won't be starting from scratch. The pieces are in place."
Stefanek knows its a little late in the off-season, but will use the remainder of the Panther Valley Summer League to watch the team. He's also hoping to get the Bombers in the Stellar Tournament at Cedar Beach in Allentown and work with the kids who aren't involved in other sports this fall. Stefanek encourages the kids to play other sports, but if they choose not to, he'll have them on the court.
"This is just a great coaching opportunity since I teach in the district and wil have contact with the players on a daily basis off the court," he added. "It's a passionate sports town and I hope to see Blue and White streaming on Delaware Avenue again. This isn't a one-year and done opportunity for me either. I hope to be coaching here for many years and hopefully it'll be my last hurrah."
The board also approved the following extracurricular positions for the 2011-12 school year:
- Thomas Smelas, head baseball coach, $3,881
- Glenn Reimer, head softball coach, $3,881
- Mike Gombert, head track coach, $3,881
- Barry Hahn, head girls soccer coach, $3,881
- Daniel Bowman, head tennis coach, $2,334
- William D. Kunkel, assistant football coach, $3,863
- Patrick Morgans, assistant football coach, $3,863
The board also approved the removal of Andrew Remsing as an assistant football coach for the 2011-12 school year.
TIMES NEWS Reporter Terry Ahner contributed to this story