Rentko calling it quits after 29 years on bench
By Jill Snowdon - Citizens' Voice
Its hard for Jack Rentko to watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament without thinking strategy. As a basketball coach for 29 years, its automatic for the Nanticoke girls coach to think how he can apply new plays to help better his team.
From now on, however, Rentko is simply a fan of the game.
Rentko announced his coaching retirement Wednesday night, a month after Nanticoke ended the season with a 21-6 record.
Its something Ive been kicking around because my daughter is in college now and shell be playing sports, Rentko said. And my son will be graduating college in December and I would have to miss some games and practices if I were still coaching. Rentkos daughter Leigh Ann is a redshirt freshman for Mansfield Universitys track team. Shes also considering playing field hockey or basketball next year. His son, David, will graduate from Clemson University in mechanical engineering and his other son John Eric works in Myrtle Beach, S.C., leaving Rentko and his wife Karen with commitments that go beyond high school sports.
Im happy with my decision right now because its not basketball season, but when I watch the games on TV Im still thinking as a coach, Rentko said. But Im looking forward to visiting my kids, seeing my daughter play sports and my son graduating.
Rentko isnt stepping down alone. His long-time assistant, Jim Zubritski, also is retiring from coaching.
Together, they helped Nanticoke girls basketball dominate the Wyoming Valley Conference in recent years. Rentko and Zubritski along with Gary Williams, who retired from basketball last season, combined to guide Nanticoke to three District 2 Class AAA championships (1999, 2006, 2007).
Jimmy wants to hang it up too and honestly, coaching wouldnt be the same without him, said Rentko, who compiled a 277-111 record at Nanticoke. When I first took over at Nanticoke, I really wanted to coach with Jim. He coached Nanticoke boys for many years and hes a very good fundamentalist. We were always on the same page and I really enjoyed coaching with him.
Rentkos coaching career began in 1980 as an assistant at Crestwood. While coaching at Nanticoke, Rentko saw six players earn Player of the Year honors from the WVC, including Heather Roback, Jen Blasi, Lauren Kurkowski, Sara Acker, Aly Byorick and Jenn Harnischfeger.
Some of his favorite coaching moments include Nanticokes rally against Berwick in 1998. The Trojanettes trailed by seven points with 30 seconds left in the game and managed to post a win. Hes also proud of the teams 48-game league winning streak that stretched from 2004-2008.
Im really going to miss coaching, said Rentko who has been the Nanticoke head coach for 14 seasons and two as an assistant. Jimmy and I are going to miss all the friendships we made with the kids. Its always nice when they come up to you five years down the road and thank you for everything youve done.
Nanticoke Area senior Sean Bieski had to change the way
he plays basketball this season.
Coach: Ken Bartuska
Key players: Sean Bieski, 6-2, Sr.; Beau Colatosti, 6-0, Sr.; Josh Olzinski, 6-0, Sr.; Rob Smith, 6-2, Sr.; Josh Victor, 5-11, Sr.; Jarad Kmietowicz, 5-11, Jr.; Zack Morgis, 6-4, Jr.; Darian Twyman, 6-2, Jr.; Cael Evans, 6-5, So.
Outlook: Nanticoke was the surprise team last season and if the Trojans succeed this season they will be a surprise team. Bieski (14.9 ppg) is the only returning starter, while Olzinski and Smith are the only other letter winners. So theres plenty of work to do to match last seasons record. Nanticoke will be GARs toughest competition in the division, but probably wont have enough to overtake the Grenadiers.