CARROLLTON - Andrew Bobalik just got his next assignment.
The 2006 East Liverpool graduate guided the Heartland Christian boys basketball team to a 14-win improvement over the past two seasons.
Now, he turns his attention to the Carrollton Warriors.
"It was a great opportunity that I just couldn't pass up," the 25-year-old Bobalik said. "It's hard leaving Heartland after all those boys accomplished, but I'm excited about this new opportunity."
Bobalik was hired as the Carrollton boys varsity coach after coming up empty in his pursuit to join the college coaching ranks. Bobalik said he interviewed at three colleges - Toledo, Cleveland State and Longwood - before the post at Carrollton became available.
Bobalik will replace Matt Voll, who led the Warriors to an 85-58 record during the past six seasons.
"These guys finished 18-7 last season and lost in the district finals to St. Clairsville," Bobalik said of Carrollton. "They're losing eight seniors and only have two guys coming back. I'm not going to say it's a rebuilding process because I don't like that terminology. Everyone there I've talked to has been phenomenal. I'm eager to get started and carry on the winning tradition that coach Voll helped build."
Bobalik, who will meet his new team on Tuesday, said it was difficult to say goodbye to his Heartland Christian squad.
"I built some great relationships there," he said. "It's hard to leave because I saw so much improvement, effort and maturity in those young men. I think we built a winning tradition there and they have a lot of positive things to look forward to in the future."
The Lions posted a 4-17 mark in Bobalik's first season. This year, however, Heartland saw those numbers nearly reversed after finishing at 18-5.
"Hard work and having great kids were the key," he said of the Lions' turnaround. "I had a phenomenal administration backing me and the guys did everything I ever asked of them. They saw that winning becomes much more easier when you're willing to put in the hard work."
Still a young man in the coaching game, Bobalik has already accumulated a wealth of experience. Following in his father's footsteps - John Bobalik coached for a total of 18 years at East Liverpool, Wellsville and Toronto - the younger Bobalik said he lives for coaching.
In addition to his two years at Heartland, Bobalik has also coached for three years with the East Liverpool 7th grade team and spent one season as a varsity assistant at Youngstown Chaney.
"My dad was a coach growing up and I've spent my whole life in the gym," he said. "I've always been a gym rat. I like being able to be a positive influence and a good role model for these young people. It's a good feeling to know you can help mold them into succesful adults who are good people."
Bobalik will also be employed as a physical education teacher at Carrollton. He recently completed his masters degree in physical education from Canisius after attending undergraduate school at Kent State (East Liverpool and Salem) and Youngstown State University.
Bobalik said he had the utmost respect for Voll, who stepped down to be able to spend more time with his family. Voll led the Warriors to five sectional championships and two district titles, highlighted by a 20-0 regular season in 2010-11. His career record stands at 246-149 over 17 years which also includes stops at Waynesfield Goshen and West Holmes.
"This guy is a class act," Bobalik said. "He's set the bar high and just done a tremendous job with those kids."