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Four LO sports getting a fresh coach



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July 20, 2011 - July is over half way done and the thought of school is looming in many a students mind.

Yet alongside scholastic endeavors comes the return of school sports and Lake Orion High School is beginning their seasons even fresher with the introduction of four new coaches.

Starting with Boys' Varsity Basketball, Freshman Coach Tom Risi is replacing former head coach Mike Shafkalis, while the Boys' Dive coach, Becky Ghazal, is replacing former Girls' Dive coach Pault Brent. Pat Cherry has left his position as coach of Varsity Hockey - his replacement Nick Field brought up from JV, followed finally by a retirement from long time Soccer Coach Kenneth Snage. It is not known who will replace Snage at this time.

Yet Risi, of Clarkston, said he's looking forward to the challenge offered from coaching a varsity level sports team.

"It's going to be a lot more responsibility and it can feel overwhelming but it feels good," said Risi. "I've done freshman and junior varsity teams before, so this will be my first time doing varsity, and I'm looking forward to the job."

Risi compared the two classes of basketball, calling varsity not only faster and more aggressive, but also much more challenging due to the talent involved. While he called the transition between freshman and Varsity Basketball the same as the transition from boy to man, he said Lake Orion is still composed of predominantly young players - something that is not necessarily a bad thing.

"This year's team is still a young team, but I see good things in the future - these guys are very athletic," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what I can expect from Sophomore John McCarty and Junior Chaz Miller.

"We've got some tough match ups early in the season, but the challenge just makes it more fun."

Risi, who's played basketball since age four, started coaching after high school when he took a year off to continue on with his alma mater. His career in Lake Orion Schools started when one of his friends from the area gave him the tip that the Freshman Coach spot was vacant. He was hired in two days before trials started.

Risi has coached Freshmen, Junior Varsity, and travel teams. He also wished a hearty farewell to former coach Micheal Shafkalis, adding he has nothing but respect for his predecessor.

The first basketball tryouts begin in August.

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