Photo by Heather Middleton
Dan Maehlman knew ever since he was a freshman at Archbishop Moeller High in Cincinnati that he wanted to be a high school basketball coach.
It wasn't the appeal of winning games that drew him into the coaching profession. He had bigger aspirations.
Maehlman got into coaching to have a bigger impact on his players' lives, much like his high school coach Carl Kramer.
Raised in Cincinnati mostly his mother, Maehlman saw a caring father figure in Kramer, who is in his 20th season as head coach of the prestigious all-boys Catholic school.
"My dad wasn't around a whole lot and my mom was raising me," Maehlman said. "He (Kramer) taught me how to be a man and get through things. He was always there for me."
And now, Maehlman is there for his student-athletes at Jonesboro.
There would be few who doubt Maehlman's passion for his players and the school. It could be argued that he is too passionate.
"Coach would do anything for you, and that is why we love playing for him," said sophomore Cameron Sutton, a three-sport standout athlete at the school. "Coach treats us like we are his own kids."
At Jonesboro, he wears many hats as a teacher, athletics director, basketball and volleyball coach. When the baseball coach resigned earlier this school year, Maehlman stepped in to fill that position.
The past month, he and his basketball assistants have been filling the dual role of basketball and baseball coaches.
Hours before his team played for the Region 4-AAAA basketball championship, Maehlman was in the dugout at the school coaching the baseball team in a scrimmage game.
"I could have hired a baseball coach, but I wanted the right coach," Maehlman said. "I wasn't just going to hire someone to have them in the position. Jonesboro and these kids mean too much to me."
So, until he finds a coach that shares his same passion for the school and students, Maehlman will coach.
"Obviously, I didn't get into the field for the pay," Maehlman said. "I just love being around kids. Winning is a bonus, but having the opportunity to see them grow and being there for them. Some kids don't have fathers. I treat them all like they are my kids."
The baseball team is hoping for similar success that Maehlman has had with the basketball and volleyball teams.
In six seasons as the head basketball coach, Maehlman has 122 wins and two region championships. The fifth-ranked Cardinals will host Greenbrier Saturday in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs. Jonesboro has been to the state playoffs four of the six seasons he has been head coach.
Maehlman's volleyball teams have won 10 straight county championships, and this fall they reached the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
But the driving force for Maehlman is the impact that he has on the athletes' lives, not the won-loss record.
"There are a lot of similarities between me and some these kids," he said. "The wins are the bonus. I'm not trying to go anywhere. We have built something here and I don't feel like leaving it."
It is his affection for the players that have former players still coming around to help.
Harry Douglas, whose two sons Harry, Jr., and Toney played at Jonesboro, has become a big supporter of Maehlman and the athletic department. Harry, Jr., is a receiver with the Atlanta Falcons and Toney plays for the New York Knicks. The elder Douglas often still sits behind the Jonesboro bench at basketball games.
"Dan works so hard and wears a lot of hats around that school," said the elder Douglas. "His heart and passion is for those kids. He does so much to keep Jonesboro up there in athletes. I will go as far to say if Maehlman walked away the athletic department would suffer."
The Dan Maehlman File
Position: Athletics director, basketball coach, baseball coach and volleyball coach
Years at Joneboro: 12
College: Alderson-Broaddes College in West Virginia
Role model: Carl Kramer, his high school coach
Family: wife, Robyn; daughter, Hadley