Tower Hill School's athletic director Jack Holloway was looking for a veteran coach last year to stabilize the Hillers boys basketball program.
Holloway believes he found the right person in Thom Shumosic, who has returned to high-school coaching after a 14-year absence.
Shumosic, a Newark High and University of Delaware graduate, has an enviable track record. He coached Sanford School to the 1991 state title, beating Salesianum School in the finals.
Shumosic is the Hillers' third varsity boys coach in the past four years.
"We're excited and very happy to have Thom around our program and working with some good kids," said Holloway, a former athletic director and standout wrestling coach at William Penn High School. "We are trying to make sure our program is in the right situation."
Shumosic, 47, said he was ready for the challenge.
"The big key is to have a solid program at Tower Hill right from the seventh and eighth grade up to the high-school varsity," said Shumosic, a certified financial planner and founder and owner of the Rockwood Financial Group on Silverside Road in Brandywine Hundred.
"From every indication, the school is in support of this plan. I made two promises when I was hired: one, that we will be a better team at the end of the year than we are at the beginning; and we will be better players. Our role model, right in our own conference, is Tatnall and Sanford. That's what we want to become."
Tatnall School won its first state title in 2005-'06 and Sanford historically is one of the state's best teams. Tower Hill is a long way from reaching that status, but the Hillers showed improvement with a 3-6 start in December.
"We have a pretty feisty group of kids," Shumosic said. "One of our losses was in overtime to Rising Sun [Md.]. We dress six sophomores and three freshmen. Five of the six sophomores play a lot right now.
"Every single game so far, we have taken a step forward. Even in the lopsided loss to Sanford, the kids played hard from beginning to end. As a coach, that's all you can ask for. These kids are building a foundation."
Shumosic said he's had the urge to get back into coaching for the past two years. His friend Jeff Flanders, the girls coach at Tower Hill, encouraged him to apply. After a 2 1/2-hour meeting with Holloway, he was ready to return.
Shumosic had worked since 1997 as an analyst on radio broadcasts of University of Delaware men's and women's basketball games.
"I remember I called my wife, Stephanie, and she said it is probably time to stop talking about it and get back and coach," Shumosic said.
Holloway believes Shumosic can revive the basketball program and get it on a status with other winning programs at Tower Hill.
"We've had some excellent success on the girls side and we're seeing that in boys sports," Holloway said. "The football team, coached by Kevin Waesco, was 8-2 [in 2006] and won the [Independent] Conference. Billy Cannon's baseball team lost a tough one-run game to Caesar Rodney in the state tournament last spring.
"In soccer, we've been to the finals and semifinals of the state tournament. Lacrosse and wrestling has had some success. We want to see all our programs evolve and basketball join in that success. We have a good group of kids and the right person for the coaching job."
Shumosic knew he had players with potential when Tower Hill upset then-unbeaten Delaware County (Pa.) Christian Academy last month.
The Hillers are led by senior point guard Byron Alston.
"He's done a great job for us," Shumosic said. "He brings a lot of juice to the table."
The top scorer is 6-foot-2-inch junior forward James Mraz, who also is the starting quarterback in football and shortstop in baseball. He's averaging 14 points a game. The starting lineup also has sophomore guards Justin Hicks and Andrue Smith and 6-foot-3-inch freshman center Trip Ashley.
"Trip has a world of hustle and desire," Shumosic said. "He works and works, like all these kids do. I think we are a little ahead of where I expected us to be at this point."
Top reserves are 6-foot-4-inch sophomore center Tyler Hobbs and sophomore guard Evan DeDominicis.
Shumosic also credits his coaching staff, which includes varsity assistants Guillermo Ortega and Bob Webb. Shannon Riley, football coach at Glasgow High School, is the junior varsity coach. Alex Meginnis, who played at the Salesianum and Wilmington College, handles the freshman team. Chris Aitken and Billy Cannon coach the middle-school team.
"It's very important that all the kids are playing and working hard to be a part of the whole system," Shumosic said. "We certainly have some athletes here and smart kids. When you combine the two on the court, it will help us to be successful."
by Jack Ireland, The News Journal
Reprinted with permssion of The News Journal