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Experienced coaches accept jobs at Mitchell

By JAMAL THALJI and JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Mitchell has made its first wave of coaching hires -- and it's sending ripples across the coaching ranks.

Gulf baseball coach Phil Bell has accepted the head baseball coaching position. River Ridge girls golf coach Steve Knobl has accepted the same position at Mitchell, where he also will coach girls basketball.

River Ridge junior varsity softball coach Scott Bisbe also has agreed to coach the varsity at Mitchell, where he also will be a football assistant.

"These jobs have been offered and accepted," Mitchell assistant principal Jim Michaels said. "But the transfers still have to be approved by their principals and the school board."

Michaels expects that approval to be a mere formality, and he said more coaches will be named in the coming weeks as Mitchell gains a clearer picture of its projected student population and teacher allotments.

The most prominent name on the list is the 31-year-old Bell, who guided Gulf to an 11-17 season, its best record since 1983. The Bucs return virtually intact next season, making the decision to depart even tougher.

"Very much so," Bell said. "That was really the toughest part of the decision. I met with kids this afternoon, and the majority have been with me for three years. And they're all coming back except for two seniors. It was very difficult. The hardest part was to tell the kids.

"On the other hand, it's very exciting to open a new school and be part of that."

Bell has earned a reputation of something of a rebuilder, and even though he has yet to post a winning season in six seasons as a head coach, he helped turn around Central before doing the same at Gulf.

"Gulf has been great to me, from the administration and (principal) Cheryl Rennecker to the parents to the kids," Bell said. "They've been very special. But at Mitchell, I'm getting a chance to be reunited with some people I've worked with, and I'm excited about that."

Gulf hired Bell after the '95 season, and the Bucs won six games in each of his first three season, seven in his fourth and 11 this year.

In 1990, Bell began his coaching career as an assistant on the varsity baseball team and head of the junior varsity team at Hudson High. From 1991-94, he was an assistant football coach at River Ridge while coaching the junior varsity baseball team.

A Saint Leo graduate, Bell was offensive coordinator under Gulf football coach Keith Newton but now will serve in a different capacity on football coach Scott Schmitz's staff.

As for his baseball assistants, he said Scott Williams, the Gulf JV coach, has been hired at Mitchell as a history teacher and volunteer assistant Wayne Lampe has expressed interest in joining him at Mitchell, but no decisions have been made. Ridgewood teacher Aschell Glazes accepted the job of girls tennis coach at Mitchell, and River Ridge math teacher Mike Cuddy will head to Mitchell as JV softball coach.

SIGNINGS: River Ridge basketball player Joe Hoolihan has signed with Pasco-Hernando Community College, according to his father. The 6-foot-6 forward led the Royal Knights in scoring and rebounding last year.

Also, Land O'Lakes kicker James Bradley signed with Division II Quincy (Ill.) University.

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