New Castle News

Sports

June 11, 2014

High School Basketball: Stanley returning to coach at Union

NEW CASTLE — Union High is turning to a familiar face to lead its boys basketball program.

Former Scotties and New Castle coach Mark Stanley was hired last night’s meeting of the Union Area School Board to replace Dave Smialowski, who resigned last month after seven seasons.

“He’s replacing a pretty good guy in Dave Smialowski,” said Union athletic director Bob Natale, who is also Stanley’s father-in-law. “Dave worked hard while he was here and had a good record. He was a good guy to work with.

“We’re thrilled to have Mark. His record speaks for itself. He’s an outstanding guy and we’re happy to get him back. Coaching is in his blood and coaching basketball is in his blood. This is in an opportunity for him to give back to his alma mater and I think everybody wants to do that.”

Under Smialowski, the Scotties qualified for the playoffs six times, advancing to the WPIAL semifinals once and the PIAA playoffs twice. The team finished with a 10-13 record this past season and suffered a 74-62 setback to Wilkinsburg in its first-round game at Butler.

“I have to take my hat off to coach Smialowski,” the 48-year-old Stanley said. “I know how much work he’s put in in the last seven, eight years. He did an excellent job with the program, doing what he did. Union should greatly appreciate the effort he’s put in.”

Stanley — a three-sport star at Union — spent seven years at his alma mater, compiling an 83-101 record before taking over as New Castle boys coach in 2007. His 2002-03 Union team lost to Scotland School 80-69 in the PIAA Class A championship game.

Before resigning at New Castle in 2010, Stanley guided the Red Hurricane to a 31-37 record.

“I never really thought about coming back,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed watching Union play over the years. I’ve enjoyed talking with Coach Smialowski — not just about basketball. Because I had kids coming through, I thought I’d help out.

“So, I coached the fifth and sixth grade basketball teams this year. I coached the groups that are coming up. That’s what got me back into it. Being in the gym this winter, the fire started again. It’s an opportunity to continue what coach Smialowski was doing. I’ve come full circle. I just didn’t expect it.”

Stanley’s return to the bench had a lot to do with his four sons with his wife Beth — Anthony, Mark, Matthew and Lucas.

“There’s a lot of reasons,” the Union High School and Geneva College graduate said of why he decided to giving basketball coaching another try. “Mainly, I’ve got four boys in the system and I’ve coached a lot of their friends. I’ve been around these groups and I know a lot of the people coming through. I guess being familiar with them helps.”

The newest Union coach plans to employ an up-tempo offense.

“I want to push the basketball and play good defense — just be fundamentally sound,” Stanley said. “We want our kids to play hard and play smart. Everything is up-tempo now, so we’re going to get after it. Dribble drive is big now. I just want our kids to play hard and do the little things right. Everything else should take care of itself.”

After Smialowski resigned, Stanley stepped in to coach the Scotties as they participated in a spring league.

“They’ve been in a league up in New Castle,” Stanley said. “I took them up there before anyone was hired, so I’ve had some workouts with them. We just had our first meeting to set up our summer schedule.”

Stanley will stay on as Union’s baseball coach — at least for one more season.

“As of right now, I am,” he said. “My assistant Randy Schuller is staying on. One of his boys just graduated, but he has another one coming through. Having him around is a big help. He’s like a head coach, so I’ll be able to do both. It shouldn’t be a burden on me.”

Stanley knows his assistant coaches and time management will be crucial as he attempts to coach two sports.

“It’s all about managing your time and not wasting it,” he said. “The assistant coaches are big. You have to surround yourself with good people that you can trust. If you can do that, things will take care of themselves.”

With Stanley being tied up coaching for large chunks of the year, he’s thankful for Beth’s efforts in their home. Beth Natale Stanley is a former basketball star at New Castle High.

 “I married into a sports family,” Stanley said. “My wife’s brother (Bob) coaches at New Castle and my nephew (Robert) will be a senior there. We went to Hershey to watch them, but I couldn’t do this without her. She makes everything go. Now that the boys are a little older, I can take them to the gym with me if they want to go. We’re a sports-oriented family, so it’s nice that’s how we’re built.”

(Email: C_Corbin@ncnewsonline.com).

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