Nordonia has found its new boys basketball coach.
Much like girls coach Julie Buckler, the new man has roots with the Knights’ rival on the other side of Chamberlin Road.
Dominique Sanders was hired as Nordonia’s head boys basketball coach by the Board of Education Monday, as his contract was approved with a 5-0 vote. Sanders’ supplemental contract will pay him $7,332.30 for the 2019-20 school year.
A 2008 graduate of Twinsburg High School, Sanders will continue to teach physical education in the Twinsburg City School district next year.
Nordonia athletic director Rob Eckenrode said Sanders was chosen over a field of over 50 applicants for the job. Eckenrode said both he and Nordonia superintendent Dr. Joe Clark loved two of Sanders’ traits immediately.
"His energy and his enthusiasm, He impressed everyone throughout the interview process," Eckenrode said. "He had a plan that he wanted to implement, starting with the youth program all the way up to the high school. Based on the initial results, I’m excited.
"He’s a younger guy who knows what he wanted to do and how to go about doing it," he added.
Eckenrode noted Sanders was introduced at open gym session Wednesday at Nordonia, which was attended by more the 60 players.
Sanders joins the Knights after spending the past winter as the head coach at Field High School. In his first year with the Falcons, Sanders led Field to a 4-17 record.
"We lost nine games by seven points or less, including three buzzer-beaters," Sanders said. "We had a rough, rough season."
Sanders said he planned to stay in Brimfield, but multiple people contacted him about applying for the Nordonia job.
"I wasn’t looking to get out of Field," Sanders said. "It was a community that I had learned to love. [Nordonia] was a great opportunity for me and one I couldn’t pass up."
A 2012 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Sanders opened his coaching career at his alma mater, spending four years as Twinsburg’s freshman coach. He spent the 2017-18 season as Kenston’s junior varsity coach, leading the Bombers to a 19-1 record.
Sanders has a ton of familiarity with the Nordonia program and he noted he looked forward to coaching in the Suburban League again.
"Dominique and his whole family has played against Nordonia," Eckenrode said. "He knew two of our coaching staff previously. It turned out to be a better fit than we thought."
Sanders played under Nordonia junior varsity assistant Don Springer during his time at Twinsburg and also had relationship with Nordonia JV coach Dave Smith. Sanders plans to have Springer, Smith and Don Jones — another former Twinsburg coach and Sanders’ JV coach at Field last winter — join the staff at Nordonia.
"That’s a lot of experience with that group," Sanders said.
Sanders said he wants the Knights to play up-tempo and intelligent basketball.
"The goal is to push the tempo and take smart shots," Sanders said. "I think that it’s important that everybody knows their role. I do understand that we want to reverse the basketball and set picks. We want to get as many open looks as possible."
Sanders takes over for Matt Cash, who resigned after his second tenure with the Knights in March. Eckenrode notes Nordonia will play next season under its fourth head coach in the last six seasons, but hopes Sanders will be a long-term hire.
"This is hopefully the last time we have to go though this," Eckenrode said. "Dr. Clark and I both said we wanted to fine a coach that will take us to the next level. With the skills he’s shown, we’re confident turning the program over to Dominique."
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO