It was a given that whoever replaced longtime Alter High School basketball coach Joe Petrocelli would be under pressure to succeed. That’s what happens when the guy before you wins 800-plus games over 50 years.
But not for Eric Coulter.
“That’s how I look at it,” said Coulter, who was elevated from assistant to head coach on Thursday following Petrocelli’s retirement in March.
“After a tough day of work I especially love it. … Even an angry parent would be better than some of the things that I deal with.”
That’s because for the last 18 years Coulter has been a Care Specialist/Recreation Coordinator at Mary Haven Youth Center in Warren County. He mentors juvenile sex offenders.
That wasn’t the only high-profile position filled Thursday. Mike Holweger, previously Lebanon’s head coach, was named to replace interim head coach Jay Byrne at Springboro. Byrne will stay on staff as a varsity assistant.
Also, Hamilton athletic director Mike Dellapina was named athletic director at Springfield.
Coulter has coached at various levels since graduating from Little Miami as the program’s all-time leading scorer in 1989. He is in his third stint at Alter, previously serving as an assistant in 1994-97 and 2002-05.
He returned this past season when, ironically, a position opened when Holweger left the Knights to be a varsity assistant for Springboro girls varsity basketball coach Tom Benjamin.
“It’s just living in the Alter fishbowl,” Petrocelli said of Coulter. “Expectations are always high, but he knows that.
“He’ll be just fine.”
Alter and Springboro made national searches and both looked within to fill their positions. Holweger also has been a teacher for 10 years at Springboro High School.
Coulter remains loyal to Pretrocelli.
“He set the standard of coaching excellence so high,” Coulter said. “He’s more than just a mentor to me.”
Holweger’s appointment appears to be the final transition to a series of events that rocked the Springboro program and split community sentiment with the board. He also is Boro’s third head coach in the last 20 months.
Initially, longtime coach Troy Holtrey was not renewed as coach last summer. Byrne, an assistant to Holtrey, vowed to serve only as an interim head coach last season.
Byrne stayed true to his word, but will return as Holweger’s assistant. That’s not surprising. Holweger and Byrne are Fenwick graduates and have extensive coaching backgrounds. Holweger said it was Byrne who gave him his first coaching job after he graduated from Wittenberg University.
“We go way back,” Holweger said of Byrne. “He’s a great coach and we’ll work well together.”