SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Mike Mohner and Steve Urchek have coached baseball on the high school level for many years.
In the 2017-2018 school year, Urchek was hired by St. John to take over its baseball program. Prior to St. John, Urchek coached at Pymatuning Valley. Under Urchek’s leadership the team improved from 2-14-1 to 8-13.
In February, Urchek was diagnosed with cancer and needed to begin chemotherapy treatments and surgery was also possible. At the forefront was his concern for his health and his family, but part of that family was the Heralds baseball team.
That’s when Mohner appeared on the scene.
"I wasn't actively looking," he said of coaching again. "Steve gave me the news. I've known Steve for a long time. We've talked about it on and off and if I could help."
Mohner was named the Heralds interim head varsity baseball coach for the 2019 season, which is schedule to start on March 23.
"We all know what the goal is and that is to get Steve healthy," Mohner said. "We'll see how Steve feels. Baseball is secondary. I talk to him all the time and he's been an invaluable rescource. We have a lot of similar philosphies. I'm trying to do what's best for St. John, the student-athletes and Steve."
Mohner has spent 35 years as a teacher, coach and administrator in high school sports.
“Sister Burke believes that when one door closes another one opens," Iarocci said. "We are all devastated with coach Urchek’s diagnosis. Although he has only been involved directly with St. John for a little over a year, he has been a good influence and thoroughly invested in our students and our players. In the initial conversations with coach Mohner, I believe we have found a similar person."
In addition to Urchek, Mohner said assistant coaches Larry Cafaro and John Bartone and Iarocci have been big factors in making the transition go smoother.
"I've known Nick a long time," Mohner said. "We have a good relationship. Also, the city of Ashtabula does a lot of work with the facility and that helps a lot since I'm 30 minutes away."
With Ohio weather in March, one day it can 70 degrees and the next day snow, Mohner said it's been hard to get a gauge of the Heralds, but he's also dealt with every scenario as a veteran coach.
"We're not perfect, but nobody else is, either," he said. "We're waiting for the weather to break. We have to get out and play."
Mohner said the St. John seniors — Sam Hammers, Connor Kovach, Jon Timonere, Ryan Bento, Eddie Nelson, Owen Wilms and Jacob Artman — have shown tremendous leadership.
"I can't predict what our record will be, but we'll play with class and respect for the game," Mohner said.
Mohner spent 17 years as the head baseball coach at Harding, from 1986-99 and then again from 2013-15. His overall record at Harding was 373-125 for a .748 winning percentage.
His teams won eight league, 14 sectional, seven district, a regional and six Division IV State Coaches Poll Championships. In 1993, 1995, and 1996, Mohner was named Ohio's Division IV Coach of the Year.
He is the recipient of several other coach of the year awards. In 1998, he served as President of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association.
Mohner is a past president of the Lake County Baseball Club. Mohner has authored articles on baseball coaching and spoken at clinics locally and nationally. He has coached in the Mizuno All-Ohio Series in Columbus and Team Ohio at the SunBelt Classic in Oklahoma.
In 2001, he was elected to the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Associaton (OHSBCA) Hall of Fame.
Mohner was also inducted in the Northeastern Ohio Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. He also has been inducted into the Fairport Harding High School Hall of Fame. In 2018, Mohner was inducted into the Crow’s Nest, a hall of fame instituted by the Lake County Captains, to honor area coaches.