By Anthony Rhoads
Even as a small child growing up in Cincinnati, Dan Maehlman knew what he wanted to do with his life.
Like many young boys he had dreams of playing in the NBA but as he grew up, his dream still revolved around basketball but in a different way as he wanted to become a head coach.
Now, he has realized that dream as he has been named the new head boys basketball coach at Jonesboro High School.
"This has been my dream my whole life," he said. "I've always wanted to be a basketball coach."
Maehlman replaces Mack Cain, who recently announced that he is going to Northgate High School in Coweta County to become an assistant basketball coach and head volleyball coach. Maehlman was Cain's assistant for seven years.
"I couldn't have had a better coach to work for," Maehlman said.
Cain and Maehlman led Jonesboro through its most successful period in school history. Three years ago, the team made it to the Class AAAAA Final 4 and the following year, made it to the state championship game. Last season, the Cardinals made state for the third straight year.
"It was amazing," Maehlman said. "There are a lot of coaches their whole life who don't get that chance. I couldn't have asked to have been there with a better coach than coach Cain."
This season, the Cardinals went into rebuilding mode and struggled to an 8-17 record.
"We're going in the right direction," Maehlman said. "This year was a rebuilding year and we played in a tough region."
He said a key to being successful next season will be the off-season workouts.
"These kids work really hard during the off-sseason," he said. "You get to be a team in the summer. That's what we're going to start with."
Jonesboro athletic director Don Corr is confident the program is in good hands with Maehlman.
"Coach Maehlman will be a big plus for us," Corr said. "The 8-17 record wasn't an indication of our varsity program. We put a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the court this year. We think coach Maehlman is the coach to take us back. He'll do a really good job."
Maehlman's basketball journey began at an early age.
"Basketball has been my life every since I could dribble a ball since second or third grade," he said. "I knew I wanted to coach."
One of Maehlman's biggest influences was his high school coach, Carl Kremer, at the prestigious Cincinnati Moeller School.
"My high school coach was a lot like coach Cain with his morals and discipline," Maehlman said. "If it wasn't for my high school coach, I wouldn't have worked to where I am today."
From Cincinnati Moeller, Maehlman went on to play at Alderson-Broaddus College in Phillippi, W.Va.
Maehlman was a graduate assistant for two years at Alderson-Broaddus and then went back to Ohio to be an assistant coach at Colerain High School in Cincinnati.
After a one-year stint at Colerain, he went Jonesboro.
In addition to coaching boys basketball, Maehlman has been coaching the girls volleyball team since its inception in 2000. Even though he didn't have any experience coaching girls, he approached it with the same intensity.
"That was my first time coaching girls ever," he said. "I was used to being very intense. I used to have two or three girls crying in practice. Coaching girls, you have to deal with more things off the court but I don't approach it differently. I coach them basically the same way."
Maehlman has had some success with the volleyball team, coaching the Lady Cardinals to two straight undefeated regular seasons. In the last two years, the Lady Cardinals have not lost a match until the state tournament.
"Girls are sometimes more coachable and some work harder than the guys do," he said.
Whether coaching boys or girls, Maehlman wants his players to have that same competitive fire that he has and he wants them to succeed not just in sports but in life.
"I'm a competitor; I hate to lose," he said. "The past season was one of the hardest things I had to do. I want to get the guys and girls to get the attitude of 'refuse to lose' whether it's on the court or off the court in the classroom. In the workforce, it will just make them work harder to succeed. I'm hard on the guys and girls but it pays off in the long run."
Cain knew Maehlman had the makings of a head coach because his competitiveness and desire to succeed.
In the last several years, Cain had been giving Maehlman more and more responsibility with the team because he knew Maehlman was going to be a head coach someday.
"Dan's been a very important part of our program," he said. "I'm happy for him. It's hard for me to leave after 15 years but knowing he's going to be here that makes me feel better about things."