The Corning-Painted Post School District has turned to a pair of familiar names to coach its varsity football and varsity boys basketball teams.
George Bacalles, 34, was named head football coach after coaching the Hawks’ junior varsity team the past four seasons. Former Elmira Southside coach John Fesetch, 47, was selected to lead Corning’s boys basketball team.
Their appointments were confirmed during a Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.
“We’re really pleased with the people we had fill these positions,” Corning-Painted Post Athletic Director Bill Pierce said. “George is just a lifer here in Corning and established in the system. It’s always nice when you know what you’re getting. And John’s success at Elmira Southside speaks for itself. Both are kid-centered and they’re very passionate about what they’re doing.”
Bacalles takes over for Tim Hughes, who resigned in February largely for family reasons following three seasons as Corning East head coach and four more as coach of the Hawks after all teams at Corning East and Corning West were merged before the 2010-11 school year.
Hughes had a 19-12 record at Corning East and a 24-14 mark with the Hawks. Corning went 3-6 last season.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead a great group of kids I’ve had over the past few years,” said Bacalles, a 1999 Corning East graduate. “Obviously, we’ve had a lot of great coaches in Corning: Randy Holden, Tim Hughes, Mike Johnston. Very humbled to have my name put next to some of them and hope to live up to the model they set before.”
Bacalles, a history teacher at Corning West who is in his 10th year as a teacher in the district, was an assistant junior varsity coach at East for three seasons before taking over the combined JV team. He has also coached basketball, baseball and softball at various levels and this spring is coaching modified softball.
After softball season ends, Bacalles said all of his attention will be given to football.
“I feel that this position, and any varsity position, deserves someone who is fully committed to those kids year-round,” he said. “When I sat down with Bill Pierce, I said he was going to get someone 365 days a year coaching football and teaching history, and that’s going to be my focus.”
Hughes expressed interest in returning to the football program as an assistant and Bacalles said he wants him on his staff. Bacalles expects to have his coaches in place by the end of next week.
“Tim will be an important part of the Corning Hawks football program,” Bacalles said. “He was before. He’s probably just going to switch hats.”
Fesetch coached Southside’s boys from 2005-06 to 2010-11, guiding his alma mater to back-to-back Southern Tier Athletic Conference West Division titles in 2009 and 2010. He was the final coach of the Green Hornets, with Elmira combining all teams at Elmira Free Academy and Southside before the 2011-12 school year.
Fesetch has had stints as boys and girls modified basketball coach at Corning since then. He is dean of students at Corning West and will continue in that role for Corning-Painted Post High School when the high schools combine in the fall.
“I’m just excited and ready to begin,” Fesetch said.
“I really enjoy coaching basketball. I think I coached six years at Southside and I was not ready to get out. It’s not like I’m just deciding to get back in. I just enjoy doing it and it’s something I want to continue to do as long as I can.”
Corning is coming off a 1-15 record in Rick Gallant’s lone season as head coach.
Fesetch was already busy Thursday. He set up an open gym that will kick off an extensive offseason program that will include several tournaments.
“I just want to make sure we are very competitive and that comes through working hard in the offseason,” he said. “That’s my biggest goal. … I’m looking forward to working with all the kids in Corning and putting together a year-round program, so if we do end up losing games it’s not because we’re not working hard and not prepared.”
He also made a call to set up a game against Rochester power Bishop Kearney, with the possibility that contest will be the first at Corning’s new gymnasium at Corning East, which will become the home of the combined high school. The gym is expected to open in September.
“When you pull up it looks like a college arena,” Fesetch said. “I had a tour a few weeks ago and I saw the floor plan. There are 20 glass backboards and three regulation full courts. It’s just amazing. There’s a lot of excitement with the facility, a lot of excitement with the kids coming together with one school.”