By Ryan Hines
Building a respected high school baseball program is not an easy task, but that's exactly what Bruce Boley did during his 25-year stint as the head coach of the Celina Bulldogs.
After leading the Bulldogs to consistent success throughout the last 25 years, Boley will now step away from coaching to lead the entire Celina sports program as the new athletic director.
"It was one of the most difficult decisions that I've ever had to make," said Boley regarding giving up coaching for the AD job. "It was a decision that I mulled over for hours and it sure wasn't easy, I'll be honest. You see the program improve to what it is today and it's tough to walk away from it. I will miss the one-on-one with the athletes that I was fortunate enough to coach but I will still be able to be involved a lot in Celina athletics which hopefully will make the transition go a little easier.
"It's a new chapter in my life and in the baseball program," added Boley, who will also no longer be the junior varsity girls basketball coach and varsity assistant.
The improvement from the Celina baseball program under Boley is easily evident, just looking at wins and losses. Celina baseball was 12-48 in the three years leading up to Boley's hiring in 1982 and since then the Bulldogs have accumulated a record of 421-233 (64 winning percentage). The Celina program was consistent as any team around northwest Ohio eclipsing the 20-win plateau on 10 occasions with only three losing seasons in 25 campaigns.
There were no state titles along the way (reached regional finals in 1998) and just one Western Buckeye League crown (1988) but Boley's teams were also competing against the best teams in the state in Division I along with a difficult league slate in the WBL.
"Sure we would have loved to have won a state title and more WBL titles, but we were playing against some great competition. You see the best teams in the state in Division I and Defiance has had a steady stream of outstanding talent for a long time so it's just nice to see that we competed so well for so many years," pointed out Boley. "We didn't win a lot of titles, but there weren't many years when Celina wasn't in the hunt in the WBL (Bulldogs finished second or third in the WBL 17 times in 25 years)."
It will be Boley's first full-time gig as the Celina athletic director but he did get a taste of the job a few years ago on a part-time basis.
"It is definitely a professional advancement. I filled in as the AD for about four or five months about six or seven years ago, but that was just to fill in for a short time," said Boley. "I was offered the job then but it wasn't the right time for me because I had Scott and Sean coming up through the system and I wanted the opportunity to coach them. I wasn't ready to give up baseball and coaching girls basketball at that time."
Boley should also have a little more extra free time during the spring which will allow him to watch Scott and Sean play at the University of Toledo.
"When Travis (also played at Toledo before an injury cut short his playing days) was a freshman in college and playing baseball, there would be a slow moment in one of our games when I was coaching where I would wonder how Travis was doing on the field," admitted Boley. "That won't be an issue much anymore since I won't be coaching and can now make it to more games."