By Jim Hunter
Norm Price’s big shoes have been filled.
Mark McElhinny — the former Conneaut Valley and Maplewood head boys basketball coach — was recently selected by the Crawford Central School Board to replace Price as Meadville’s head boys basketball coach.
Price resigned in February after compiling a 413-211 record during his illustrious 24-year career, which included a state runner-up finish in 1987.
McElhinny realizes the situation he is getting into.
“Norm has been the face of the program for many years and it will definitely be a big challenge replacing him,” said McElhinny.
The hiring of McElhinny is somewhat of a no-brainer. He is regarded by many peers as one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the area.
McElhinny spent 13 years as head coach at Maplewood, where he compiled a record of 187-129 (a .591 winning percentage) before stepping down after the 2009-10 season. Prior to that, he was head coach at Conneaut Valley for two seasons.
For the last three years, McElhinny has been in charge of the Bulldogs’ junior program and he will continue to lead the program this summer.
“I know these kids and I want to keep the foundation going,” he said. “The timing is right. I have received great community support and I am looking forward to being the Bulldogs’ head coach.”
Two youngsters also played a part in McElhinny’s decision to return to the bench: His sons, Shane McElhinny, age 12, and Alex McElhinny, age 10.
“They love to play the game and are involved in the junior program,” he said.
McElhinny — an avid basketball junkie — admitted it was tough being away from the game.
“It was really tough on Friday nights ... sitting in the stands,” he said.
The new MASH mentor’s immediate goals?
“We are going to build the program from bottom up. I want to add a lot of depth to the team and I am real excited about the kids coming up.”