By Ryan Hines
After 27 years of coaching basketball at Celina, including the past nine years as the varsity head coach, Mike Kanney is leaving Bulldog country and heading south to take the same position at Coldwater High School as head coach of the Cavaliers program.
Kanney, who will continue to teach history at the Celina Middle School, will be replacing Don Vogt who resigned after four years (45-42) at the helm of the Cavaliers.
"There's no question that it was a tough decision for me to make," admitted Kanney. "I'm from Coldwater and I've always kept an eye on what was going on over there. With my family all being over there and with so many friends in Coldwater, I just thought it was time for a change. I love everything at Celina and there's no animosity about my decision to leave. I just thought that it was time for a change at this time.
"Once Don (Vogt) resigned, I inquired about the position and began talking with the administration and they really impressed me," added Kanney who will still have to fill the varsity assistant position along with the seventh-grade coaching vacancy.
Kanney has had nothing but success at Celina in his nine years as the varsity head coach, compiling a record of 139-57 with three Western Buckeye League titles. Kanney hopes to bring the same kind of success to Coldwater's program. "I've watched Coldwater play over the years, and even coached against them each year, and they have a lot of good athletes and play hard each year," said Kanney. "Coldwater has great facilities and a great community and I'm just looking forward to the challenge ahead."
It wasn't an easy decision to make, something that Kanney wanted to make clear during a phone interview on Tuesday evening.
"To be successful like we've been at Celina over the years, you need good kids and good coaches and I was lucky to have both over the last nine years," explained Kanney. "I never dreamed that I would be coaching Celina basketball for nine years as the head coach and I guess that when you love what you're doing, the time goes fast. It's definitely an emotional time but it was just time for a change for me. I have a lot of respect for the people of Celina."
Kanney informed Celina about his decision on Monday after lengthy discussions with the Coldwater administration.
"It wasn't a huge surprise to Celina that I was taking the Coldwater job because they knew that I interviewed for that position in the past," stated Kanney. "About 25 years ago I interviewed for the position when Joe Niekamp got the job. I'm glad that I didn't get the job at that point because I've learned so much since that point and I've become a better coach. I took a look at it again a couple of years ago (when Vogt was hired) but I wasn't ready to leave Celina then."
As for the Celina boys' basketball job, Kanney says that former assistant coaches Jay Imwalle and Chris Bihn are both capable candidates.
"Jay is as qualified as anybody and he did a great job as an assistant coach and Chris is also very qualified for the position," said Kanney. "Both of those two are very capable of doing a great job at Celina if they're interested in the position and they are very deserving of serious consideration. The program is in good shape right now and I feel it will be in good shape in the future."
As for his new job, Kanney is ready for the challenge ahead.
"I can't wait to get to work with the kids at Coldwater," said an excited Kanney. "I know that their baseball team is in the middle of a nice season and I don't want to interrupt that, but the kids that aren't involved in spring sports, I'll meet with them soon. It will certainly be a challenge ahead with a league like the MAC (Midwest Athletic Conference) because I have a lot of respect for the coaches and teams in the league."