Former University School JV hockey coach Michael Berg, tapped over the summer to succeed varsity hockey coach Mike Bartley, told players via text message yesterday morning that he would not accept the coaching job after all.
In his message to players Sept. 24, Berg, a 1980 Shaker graduate who played for Bartley, wrote, “I only want the best for you as a team as well as Shaker Heights High. My full time job is demanding too much of my energy as well as my time.”
Berg’s message indicated that he did not want to accept the job without being certain he could give it his full attention. “Unless I could give 100 percent of my energy, I didn’t feel anything less would be acceptable,” Berg wrote.
Athletic Director Don Readance held a meeting with the team yesterday afternoon and said he is trying to find a new coach. Readance told players that he has a replacement in mind, though he would not state who. One hockey player indicated that the team will have a new coach by the end of the week.
The chosen coach will replace Bartley, the winningest high school hockey coach in Ohio history and the fifth winningest coach in the United States. Bartley coached more than 1,000 games while accumulating 640 victories. The 2013 season saw Bartley win his fourth state championship in a career that began in 1976. Other state titles came in 1981, 1993, and 2001.
Senior forward Jack Hanley believes the setback won’t hinder the team’s goals or development. “Coach Berg has made the decision to leave. As players, we are surprised by that decision. There’s nothing we can do to change that decision, and our plans for the season haven’t changed,” Hanley said.
Hanley confidently added that the decision on a new coach won’t impact the team’s success. “A coach is a coach. We’re the ones who play and we’ll still win games no matter who’s standing on the bench,” Hanley said.
Along with Bartley, the Raiders lost one of the most talented senior classes in the history of Shaker hockey in 2013.
Readance was not available for comment at the time of publication.
The hockey team’s first home game is Nov. 22 at Thornton Park. Coaches can begin leading practice Nov. 1.