Mark Alberts Sr. cherishes the friendships and relationships he has built through playing and coaching basketball.
Alberts, 66, played basketball as a youth, and with 44 seasons of coaching experience, he has seen and heard just about everything on the hardwood.
Everything, that is, except leading his team onto the court for a state semifinal as a head coach, a position he has held for 38 seasons.
Alberts will get that opportunity at 3 p.m. today when the Orrville girls basketball team meets Anna in a Division III state semifinal in Value City Arena at Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“Anybody that makes it is elated,” Alberts said. “Other coaches have been there multiple times, but it never wears off or gets old. In my case, the smile hasn’t worn off my face the last few days. Saturday we won [against Beachwood in a regional final at Cuyahoga Falls] and I have been happy ever since. I haven’t slept a whole lot the last three weeks. You are trying to win games, prepare for the next game and there is a lot of nervousness going around.”
Alberts, who has a 545-286 overall record in 38 seasons, has Orrville (26-2) primed and ready to win two more games to earn a state title. Alberts is 102-16 in five seasons at Orrville after 33 seasons as a boys coach at Danville (six), Fredericktown (two) and Wooster (25).
“It really makes us feel good because we can give back to him for what he has done for us,” said Orrville senior Hannah Plybon, the Red Riders’ all-time leading scorer. “He is a retired teacher, so he breaks down film and gives us scouting packets to read the night before games. We will watch film together as a team. He is so organized and detailed. ... It is very special for us to get him down to state.”
Today’s game with Anna will be the 832nd that Alberts, a Wooster resident, has served as a high school head coach. He estimates he has coached an additional 500 or so games as an assistant or with youth and AAU teams. Assistant Paul Chamberlin has been with Alberts for a lot of the games.
“I am the oldest rookie in the history of the game at state,” Alberts said with a laugh. “I don’t know if that is true or not. ... I am obviously pretty excited about this. My kids are excited for me. I have two sons [Mark Jr. and Mason] who played for me at Wooster and I have a daughter [Marcie] who played at Wooster. They were all in attendance on Saturday with my wife [Helen], and everybody plans to come to the state semifinal.”
Mark Sr. and Helen will celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary in August. Basketball has always been a major part of their lives.
Alberts coached Marcie and Mason to AAU national titles. He also sat on the bench alongside Wooster coach Michael Gallagher when the Generals girls’ basketball team, featuring Marcie, finished as Division I state runner-up in 1993 in Columbus.
Alberts said he has guided three teams to district titles, the Wooster boys in 2003 and the Orrville girls in 2011 and 2013. This year’s team is the first to win a regional title.
“I was smiling like crazy Saturday and every day since then, but we are not just happy to go to Columbus,” Alberts said. “We knew that at the outset of the season that we had a pretty special group. We have a chance to win the state championship. Our goal now is to win two more games. ... I am truly blessed to get this opportunity.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.