BY DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE — Nick Abalos has been hired as the boys varsity basketball coach at Whiteford.
The Temperance native has coached for the past five seasons at Blissfield, being a freshman coach, junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant.
“I just love basketball,” Abalos said. “It’s my passion. I love the game. I’ve known from very early on, even in high school, that coaching basketball is something I wanted to do.”
Abalos played basketball while in high school at State Line Christian in Temperance, where he graduated in 2006. He was coaching an AAU team in northwest Ohio when Blissfield head coach John Vandecaveye asked him to join his staff in Blissfield as the JV head coach. He did that for one year, was an assistant for two under Ron Estes, and coached freshman basketball for one year and JV basketball last year at Blissfield.
“It was tough to leave there,” he said. “There are a lot of great people in Blissfield.”
Abalos met with Whiteford staff and nearly 20 potential basketball players Tuesday. He’s working now to finalize a schedule for the rest of June and hopes to have a large turnout of players to introduce his system too.
The Bobcats went 18-3 last season, going undefeated in the Tri-County Conference with a 13-0 record. Whiteford started five seniors for much of the season. The three juniors on the team included Hunter Lake, Isaac Badenhop and Bradyn Clark-Gilmore. John Rice completed his 33rd season as head coach for the Bobcats with a record of 457-266. He coached from 1973-74 through the 2002-03 season, then again, the past three years.
Abalos is just the seventh varsity basketball coach in Whiteford’s 61-year history.
“I’m stepping into a school that has a great athletic tradition that is well-established,” he said. “I was very excited about how welcoming everyone was. I can’t wait to get started.”
Abalos, 29, is married to Whiteford graduate Chelsea Brighton who had Rice as a coach when she played basketball at Whiteford. The couple have four children, including a son that is less than a month old. He works at an Edward D. Jones office in Temperance.