By VINCE PELUSO
John Anservitz has been waiting a long time for his first shot at running a high school baseball program.
This spring, he’ll get his chance as he takes over the Lakeside Dragons varsity program.
“I wanted to be a head coach at 24, it happened at 48,” Anservitz joked. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been wanting to be a head baseball coach for long time. I’m really excited for the opportunity.
“It took me about four days to get back to them about it. When I was approached, it really blindsided me so I really had to think. It really came down to the kids for me. I really want to give them the opportunity to be successful. I’m all in for the kids.”
While this will be his first opportunity to run a baseball program, Anservitz has no lack of coaching experience.
He was the head wrestling coach for six years at Harbor and Lakeside, also coached football at Harbor and as recently as four years ago he coached JV baseball.
Anservitz has wasted little time getting things in order to try and improve the Dragons’ program.
“In the first 10 days since I’ve gotten the job, we’ve created a feeder system, putting together two travel teams for 14U and 16U,” he said. “Hopefully, that ignites the skills and talents and things we need to be successful.
“It’s important (to establish a youth program) because they’ve got to bond and create chemistry. I’m here to sell the program. I want to build a 12-month program opposed to a three- or four-month team. Everything we’re doing is going to help those goals.”
The 1983 Geneva graduate says he has a decent amount of familiarity with the current Lakeside team.
“My son (Johnny) is a seventh grader, so I’ve been watching these kids,” he said. “I’ve seen them from the senior class all the way down. I’m well aware of the talent some of these kids have. It’s pretty simple, we need to hit and we need to pitch.
“Defense will come with better pitching. That’s what we’re looking to do. We want to hone everyone’s skills and get them fired up for baseball.”
Anservitz knows Lakeside will continue to battle a difficult schedule as it plays in the always-tough Premier Athletic Conference.
But for Anservitz, that’s not an issue.
“That comes with the territory, when the bar is raised it’s your job to raise yours,” he said. “I’m going to work closely with the pitchers and try to get their arms ready to roll. We’re going to try to build through those travel teams and other various leagues around here.
“Hopefully, we get a tradition going with baseball players.”
Anservitz has had plenty of time to think about how he’d run his baseball program as he anticipated being ready to get one soon after college.
“When I got out of college, I was subbing in Columbus and my first year I coached football, wrestling and baseball with the main goal of getting my own baseball program,” he said. “Then, the wrestling coach became the football coach and I started coaching wrestling and that took off for 14 years. I really enjoyed every minutes of it, but I’m a baseball guy. This has been my No. 1 pursuit.”
Anservitz believes the players at Lakeside are ready to have a winning program.
“You’ve got to sell them on it,” he said. “I’ve had multiple meetings with the kids and parents and everyone wants the same outcome — a great experience for the kids, a positive charge that will carry through.
“That’s my job. Everyone is aware of what we want and the kids are buying into it. There’s a positive buzz in the air.”
Part of that positivity is a general feel of new coaches taking over at Lakeside.
Anservitz joins football coach Frank Hall and recently hired basketball coach Jim Hood and softball coach Jodi Candela as well as first-year athletic director Greg Zanelli as the most recent hires for the Dragons, which he feels has breathed new life into the athletic department.
“There’s a definite turn,” he said. “We’ve got a great administration with (principal) Mr. (Don) Rapose and Mr. Zanelli is doing a fantastic job, he’s on top of any questions I have. I think Coach Hall has been great and Coach Hood coming in, people are just excited because people are pushing to be successful.
“When you’re surrounded with positive people, positive things happen.”
Anservitz said his wife of 17 years, Laurie, and two sons, Matt (23, who just left for a Europe to tour with his band), and his youngest son, Johnny, are excited about his new job.
“She’s (Laurie) on board, we’ve been around baseball pretty much since we’ve been married, so she understands what it takes,” the business teacher at Lakeside said. “I’ve been one of those dads that I coached (Johnny) when he was little, but I wanted him to have the experience of being coached by other people. He happens to be in the system so now that I think about it, it’ll be exciting getting a chance to coach him one day.
“It can be tough being Coach and Dad, but it’s pretty exciting.”