A new voice will be guiding the Newcomerstown High boys' basketball team next season with the hiring of Rod Bonamico by the Newcomerstown Village Exempted School Board.

Bonamico is in his second year with the district, currently is teaching physical education, exercise science and weightlifting at the high school.

"I'm very excited about this new opportunity to coach boys' basketball here at Newcomerstown," Bonamico said. "We have some first-rate facilities here and there are a lot of hard-working student athletes to work with here. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Bonamico's previous coaching resume includes a four-year stint as varsity boys' coach at Tuscarawas Central Catholic. At TCC, he took over a 2-19 and in his first year posted an 8-14 record. During his third year with the Saints, Bonamico led TCC to a 15-7 and was selected as District V Coach of the Year for the 2009-2010 season.

Newcomerstown athletic director and head football coach Eric Brock got to see Bonamico's coaching style first-hand as he served as an assistant coach for Brock with the Trojans' football team last fall.

"Coach Bonamico helped me with the football team last fall and just did a great job with the kids," Brock said. "He's very passionate about the game and has great knowledge. He impressed our entire search committee and we are very confident in his ability to lead our boys' basketball program."

With already being in the system for a year, Bonamico feels that is a real advantage.

"It's nice in the fact I have already built some relationships with the students," Bonamico explained, "be it on the football field or in a classroom setting. I see the kids every day, so that is a real plus in helping us get off to a solid start with the program."

Bonamico is also very happy to return to coaching in the Inter-Valley Conference, a league he feels is one of the best in the state.

"I feel the IVC is one of the best Division III-IV leagues in Ohio," Bonamico said. "Our league is well-represented at the district, regional and state levels each and every year. I mean there are some very solid programs such as Hiland, Garaway. It just really prepares your for the tournament by playing such a competitive schedule during the regular season."

Last basketball season, Bonamico got a chance to check out some NHS games and was pleased with what he saw on the hardwood for the Orange and Black.

"The talent cupboard is definitely not bare here," Bonamico said. "I got a chance to see a few games last year and was impressed with the kids. We have a good mix of youth and experience coming back next year and I'm anxious to work with them all."

Bonamico wasted little time in getting things going, and said the offseason work they put in will be a key for success next season for his Trojans.

"We got started already with our weight lifting program, we need to get bigger and stronger as a team," he said. "Summer will be big for us. I'm going to get us in a summer league and then go to Eastern Ohio's team camp both the varsity and junior high teams."

"We need to include the junior high program more with the things we do. After all, they are the future of the program," Bonamico said. "We will run the same basic stuff all the way up through the program, then we will just need to add a few things as they move up to the varsity level. The same basic fundamentals will already be there and that is a huge step in the right direction of building a successful program."

At the core of the program for Bonamico will be to instill a strong defensive mind-set with his team.

"I'm a firm believer in defense," Bonamico said. "You need to be solid on defense every time you step on the court. You can have off nights shooting the basketball. That can happen, and when it does you need to be able to stay in the game by playing strong defense and rebounding the basketball. Those are two areas that we will hang out hats on for sure."