COLUMBIANA, OH- Are you a coach looking to enhance your training programs and practices? Don’t miss out on an invaluable opportunity to learn from one of the best in the business!

Event Details:
Date: Monday, July 29th
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: The Athletix Fieldhouse (Enter through front doors of the facility)

Cost: $10

What to Expect:
Join us for an evening of insights and hands-on demonstrations with Athletix Trainer Mitch Hart. This seminar is designed for coaches at all levels who are eager to improve their approach to athlete training and development. Mitch Hart will cover essential topics, including:

– Building Training Programs: Learn how to create effective and personalized training plans for your athletes.
-Maximizing Potential Without Creating Burnout: Discover strategies to push your athletes to their best while preventing burnout.
-Injury Prevention: Understand key techniques and exercises to keep your athletes healthy and injury-free.
-Seasonal Training Get tips on how to adapt your training programs according to the season to maintain peak performance.

Special Features:
-Exercise Demonstrations: Mitch Hart will showcase various exercises that can be incorporated into your training routines.
– Q&A Session: Take advantage of the opportunity to ask Mitch your burning questions and get expert advice tailored to your needs.

What to Bring:
– Bottled Water
– Note-Taking Materials: Bring something to jot down all the valuable information you’ll be receiving.
– Your Questions: Prepare to engage and get the most out of the Q&A session.

Chairs will be set up for your comfort. This is a fantastic chance to network with other coaches and gain practical knowledge that you can immediately implement with your athletes.

We look forward to seeing you at The Athletix Fieldhouse on Monday, July 29th! Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your coaching skills and help your athletes reach their full potential.



AUSTINTOWN, OH-  In this latest episode, hosts DJ Yokley and Sam Torres sit down with Tom Brode, the man behind Five Star Sports and Collectibles. As a central figure in the fast-paced world of sports memorabilia, Brode shares intriguing insights about his journey, unique experiences, and the intricacies of his business.

Tom Brode is no stranger to the challenges and excitement of bringing athletes into the spotlight. From organizing autograph signings to managing unexpected hiccups, Brode has seen it all. “Well, it’s a lot of years of knowledge and getting to make connections,” Brode explains when asked how he began his venture. “A lot of the players, we go right to their agents… Once you do good business with somebody, they refer you to another player, and then you do good business with them, and then the doors start opening up.”
However, dealing with star athletes is not always a smooth affair. Brode offers an anecdote about an upcoming event featuring Terrell Owens, known for his unpredictable nature. “I will tell you, I got my hands full. August 3. Okay, I’m bringing Taro Owens in, and that guy has been known to walk out of signings. No one believes he’s actually coming, but we do have a signed contract,” Brode reveals.

Despite the glamour associated with sports memorabilia, the business has its fair share of challenges. Brode recounts one of his most difficult experiences involving JR Smith from the Cleveland Cavaliers. “I had done previous signings with JR Smith… He showed up 4 hours late. The mall had already closed. Everybody’s trying to get a refund. He’s in the golf course, forgotten that he was supposed to come to a signing, and shows up with glasses on. Blaze. He had a good time, let’s put it that way,” Brode narrates with a mix of frustration and humor.

Tom Brode’s passion for sports memorabilia is evident not just in his professional life but also in his personal collection. “I collect three-foot bobbleheads. I like life-size bobbleheads. I have 150 of them in my basement,” he shares. Among his prized possessions is an original contract signed by Art Modell, Ernie Davis, and Paul Brown for “The Express,” showcasing Brode’s deep appreciation for sports history.

Interestingly, Brode’s love for sports extends to his family, specifically his son, who has made a name for himself in local sports. “My son was a pretty good athlete… He won two state titles at Archbishop as a player, and then he won three state titles as a coach… My son’s only 24. He’s a stud,” Brode proudly states.

As Five Star Sports and Collectibles continues to grow, Brode is eager to expand further into the community. “We’re custom frame shop. So we can do all your custom framing needs,” he mentions, extending an invitation to high schools and colleges to get their jerseys and plays framed professionally.
For those looking to explore or purchase sports memorabilia, Brode’s website,, serves as a portal to a treasure trove of sports history. “If you go to our website, you can purchase memorabilia. You get our contact and any. In a little secret, every flyer you see for any of my signings, there’s a foot. There’s a phone number in the bottom corner. It’s my personal cell phone number,” Brode adds.

Through sheer dedication and an unwavering passion for sports, Tom Brode has carved out a significant niche in the world of sports memorabilia. Whether you’re a collector, a fan, or just someone intrigued by the behind-the-scenes of athlete signings, Brode’s experiences offer a fascinating glimpse into this unique industry.


COLUMBIANA, OH- In a recent episode of YSN “Coach’s Corner,” DJ Yokley sat down with Rick Shepas, the newly appointed athletic director at Warren G. Harding High School. Shepas, a veteran in the realm of high school sports administration and coaching, shared his insights and vision for the new role, emphasizing his student-first philosophy and commitment to community building.

Shepas, who has had a storied career with many stops along the way, expressed his enthusiasm for joining the Warren G. Harding community. “When you look at what Steve Chiaro is doing with the school district, the brand new buildings, the way the buildings are kept, the pride that the community has in their traditions over at Warren Harding, I think they’re in a great place to do some special things,” said Shepas. He highlighted the school’s new center, which aims to blend athletic and academic excellence, particularly through innovative STEM programming.

At the core of Shepas’s approach is a focus on students. “Every decision is based off of what they’re doing to serve their young people in the community. That’s what I’ve always been about from day one in my career,” he emphasized. Shepas firmly believes that the well-being and development of students should drive every decision made within the educational and athletic frameworks.

Warren G. Harding boasts a rich athletic tradition, and Shepas is committed to reviving and building upon this legacy. “You have to embrace your past as you move towards the future, to maintain that standard that we’re talking about,” Shepas noted. He articulated a clear strategy for program development, one that begins with strengthening the foundation: “It starts with a top-down philosophy where you put the right coaches in place at the top of the food chain with those varsity sports.”

Shepas is known for his “velvet hammer” approach—soft yet firm. “You have an approach and you’re not going to go in and get in a bunch of people’s faces and tell them how it is. You have a velvet hammer approach,” Yokley remarked. Shepas’s method involves setting high standards while maintaining a nurturing environment. “The accountabilities on how you run your program is where the focus should be. If we’re buttoned up and we’re doing the very best that we can for our kids in the development, in the mental processes as well right now, the training process and then the nutrition process,” he explained.

For Shepas, building a successful athletic program is more than just fostering talent—it’s about creating a holistic culture that supports students on multiple levels. “You’d be surprised the esports population out in Warren. They’re getting more people involved in esports,” he mentioned, showcasing his inclusive vision that extends beyond traditional sports. He also stressed the importance of nutritional support: “I was thoroughly impressed that there’s an active kitchen, a live kitchen in each school,” highlighting how even meal times can be opportunities for growth and bonding.

Collaboration is key to success in Shepas’s eyes. “We need to share athletes. We need to share athletes without any coaches feeling either paranoid or nervous that any one of those coaches was going to try to force a kid not to play another sport,” he said. By fostering a cooperative environment among coaches, Shepas aims to provide a balanced and enriching experience for students.

As Shepas embarks on this new journey, he is optimistic about the possibilities. “I think you’re going to see a well-disciplined group of athletes come out of that athletic department. I think that’s going to have a great impact on the school,” he predicted. His goal is to instill a sense of discipline, respect, and excellence that extends beyond the athletic field and into all aspects of student life.

Shepas’s appointment marks an exciting new chapter for Warren G. Harding, and with his student-first philosophy and experienced leadership, the future looks bright for this storied athletic program. As he succinctly put it, “We’re going to do this the Warren way and move forward together on that with all of our coaches.”

With a commitment to honoring the past while innovating for the future, Rick Shepas is poised to help bring Warren G. Harding to new heights.



COLUMBIANA, OH- The aromatic air of anticipation and rivalry surrounds Columbiana’s baseball scene as Coach Bryce Franken discusses the heightened emotions and strategic fervor leading up to the significant rematch against Crestview. On YSN’s inaugural episode of Columbiana Baseball Coach’s Corner, hosted by DJ Yokley, Coach Franken shares insights that are not only encapsulated in the technique and strategies on the field but also steeped in personal growth and community spirit.

Coach Franken, a figure synonymous with commitment and passion for baseball, expressed his excitement about the upcoming game which marks the continuation of a spirited rivalry that resumed after a seven-year hiatus. “We are so fired up for tomorrow. We knew Crespi was going to be playing Waterloo on Monday…and we had a good feeling that tomorrow was going to be the matchup that we’re getting,” Franken noted, acknowledging the strong anticipation surrounding this encounter.

The significance of the rivalry was not just in its competition, but in its deep roots within local tradition, which Franken helped reignite. “Last time Columbiana went to state…we were playing Crestview pretty regularly,” Franken recalled, underscoring his pivotal role in resuming these keenly contested matches.
However, the conversation soon dipped into a reflection on personal growth intertwined with professional responsibilities. Franken shared heartfelt thoughts about his family, illustrating how personal life and professional commitments create a challenging yet fulfilling balance. “Praise the Lord for giving me the opportunity to do this job. It’s not always easy. And I thank my wife, Lauren, for everything. It’s a lot of nights away,” he shared, painting a picture of the perennial tug-of-war between personal commitments and professional duties.

A particularly touching moment came when he discussed his relationship with his brother, Chase, whose college baseball journey he closely supports. “Getting me emotional,” Franken admitted, “It’s been a rollercoaster four years for that young man. And I can say I’ve never been more proud of the person he’s become.” His pride in his brother’s resilience and success reflected the deep familial bonds that motivate Franken beyond the baseball diamond.

In discussing the team’s preparation and mindset, Franken did not hold back on his competitive spirit, emphasizing the blend of readiness and anticipation that defines his coaching strategy. “We’re going to get after it, do some different things. Definitely approach needs to change as far as what we saw in the last five innings of that game,” he stated, highlighting his tactical acumen.

The interview not only showcased Coach Bryce Franken’s deep ties to Columbiana’s baseball tradition but also his reflective and considerate nature off the field. With community and family firmly at heart, Franken continues to navigate the challenges and joys of coaching, aiming always to inspire both his players and his audience.

The entire community of Columbiana stands behind Franken as he leads his team into another historic game, hopeful not just for a win, but for the continued success and unity of their beloved baseball tradition.



COLUMBIANA, OH- The curtains have recently drawn on the 55th annual Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame induction, an event that has brilliantly capped off the thrilling sports season in the valley. This year, the event not only celebrated the newest inductees but also marked a significant milestone in its illustrious history. Bob Camardo, a central figure in organizing this prestigious event, joined DJ Yokley on the latest episode of the YSN podcast, “Catching the Curb,” to reflect on the grandeur and detailed planning behind this successful gathering.

Bob began by acknowledging the immense efforts and meticulous coordination of the banquet chairman, Tom Miller. “The first person that needs thanked is Tom Miller,” Camardo highlighted, illustrating the relentless dedication behind the scenes. “He really, really goes all out with this banquet,” Camardo added, pointing out the intricate orchestration required to mount such a grand affair.

This year’s event welcomed twelve new inductees, each celebrated for their unique contributions to sports and the community. The ceremony was not just a recognition but a vibrant celebration of local heroes who have exemplified excellence and passion. Bob vividly recounted the atmosphere, “We had, what, 420 people there. It was, it was a great show from beginning to end.”

One of the standout moments came from keynote speaker Gene Steratore, whose speech left a lasting impression on everyone present. “Gene Steratore… he went into his speech and talked about things that would pertain to not only sports but everyday life, with no notes, he was tremendous,” Camardo shared, expressing admiration for Steratore’s ability to connect with the audience genuinely and thoughtfully.

The Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame induction doesn’t just serve as a ceremonial occasion but is a significant fundraiser for community charities. The imperative of sponsorship and community support is not lost on Camardo, who explained the underlying motivations:”This is the only, quote unquote, fundraiser that we do all year… It’s imperative for sponsors and inductees to bring family, to get their barber to do an ad or whatever, because it’s the only way that we generate any revenue.”

Looking ahead, Bob Camardo and his team are already gearing up for next year, taking lessons and inspiration from each event to enhance future experiences. “We already have next year’s keynote speaker for the banquet… and it’s former Oklahoma and Browns running back Greg Pruitt,” Camardo enthused, signaling another exciting event upcoming.

Reflecting on the colossal effort and the joy it brings, Camardo’s dedication is palpable: “The whole event itself, the look of surprise on people’s faces… looking at the twelve inductees and how happy they were and their families, I mean, just the way they appreciated being inducted into the hall of fame. There’s a whole myriad of things that make it, you know, at the end of the night, you’re like, wow, we really did a good job.”

As the valley anticipates the 56th annual edition, set to unfurl next May, the spirit of community and celebration continues to flourish, thanks in no small part to the persistent efforts of individuals like Bob Camardo, who work diligently to shine a spotlight on the best and brightest in local sports history. With a refreshing mix of humility and pride, Camardo sums it up: “We’re looking forward to the next year now. I really am.”

The Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame serves as a beacon of inspiration, proving that with passion, commitment, and a strong community behind you, celebrating local sports legends can resonate far beyond the trophies and accolades—it’s about building a lasting legacy.




CANFIELD, OH- South Range’s baseball team has long been a force to reckon with in high school sports, and Coach Jim Hanek is a significant reason why. With the 2024 season well underway, Coach Hanek shared his thoughts on what constitutes a successful season, the development of young talents, and his coaching philosophy on the first episode of SOUTH RANGE BASEBALL COACH’S CORNER with DJ Yokley.

For Coach Hanek, the team’s recent trip to Myrtle Beach wasn’t merely about wins and losses, though they returned with an impressive 4-1 record. He elaborated, “Wins and losses, yes. I mean, it’s… Those are important, but… the team building, the camaraderie that you get from a trip like that… it just really brings the team closer together.” The importance of team cohesion can often be undervalued, but for teams aiming for the top, it’s clear that Hanek considers it essential.

Fostering a winning culture isn’t just about celebrating victories on the field—it’s also about appreciating the lighter moments. Coach Hanek described the team’s traditional Rios night vividly, recounting moments of lighthearted competition: “There were a few kids that… tried to out eat each other. It didn’t end very well late in the evening,” he chuckled, noting even he had to pass up dessert to focus on the “main course” of the night.

When asked about cultivating standout players like senior Tyler Wardle, Coach Hanek’s pride was evident. “He’s worked hard. I mean, he continues to work hard… and I think he’s a, he’s strong in his faith, you know? And I admire him for the fact… I think that strong faith base he has… that calms him,” he shared, stressing the significance of personal development alongside athletic prowess. For Hanek, inspiring athletes to be well rounded, responsible adults is a key aspect of his coaching duties.

Coach Hanek is also known for his analytical approach to the game, digging deep into data to make informed decisions. Yet he acknowledges the role of intuition. “A lot of… in-game decisions… you just kind of see how the game’s evolving… it’s a mix,” Hanek explained. There’s a dance between following the statistics and trusting one’s instincts that Hanek seems to have mastered over his coaching tenure.

Reflecting on the pressures of winning state championships, Coach Hanek offered perspective: “I think if you’re judged solely on that and you’re looking at that as the ultimate goal and nothing else matters, I think you’re missing a lot.” He emphasized the journey over the destination, the growth of players over wins, and the broader impact a coach can have on young lives.

As South Range’s baseball season progresses, the community will be watching Coach Jim Hanek, not just for his strategic play-calling but for the way he continues to mold a group of young athletes into a tight-knit team poised for success both on and off the diamond. His depth of experience, blended with his thoughtful approach to coaching, makes each game a learning opportunity for his players and a master class for everyone watching. Keep an eye on the Raiders this season as they implement the lessons from Myrtle Beach under the steady guidance of a coach who truly understands the heart of baseball.




COLUMBIANA, OH- As we gear up for the much-anticipated Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fam banquet on May 5, guest speaker Bob Camardo shared invaluable insights on the latest episode of YSN’s podcast, “Catching the Curb.” In his conversation with host DJ Yokley, Camardo, brimming with excitement and a sense of urgency, discussed preparations, upcoming guest speakers, and the importance of community support.

With less than a month to go until the banquet, preparations are in full swing, and the team, led by banquet chairman Tom Miller, is adding the final touches. Camardo highlighted the significance of this gathering: “That’s the only fundraiser we have is that banquet. So it’s important for us to make enough money so that we’re able to give to the charities, which is what we do with that money.”

For members of the community eager to support this cause, tickets are still available, and Camardo assures that the evening will be one to remember. “Please consider joining us because it’s a special night…and like I said, that’s the only fundraiser we do all year. So it’s important for us to get good attendance, good advertising, and again with Gene Steeretor speaking, it should be a heck of a night,” Camardo expressed with enthusiasm.

Another hot topic was the recent changes in the coaching staff for YSU basketball. With new beginnings on the horizon, Camardo shared, “We’re looking to maybe bump our advertising up a little bit,” in anticipation of welcoming Ethan Faulkner and Melissa Jackson as the new basketball coaches. Their appointments have created a buzz and hopes for continued success in YSU sports.

There’s also pride in acknowledging YSU athletes’ accolades, as Camardo mentioned the bowling team’s remarkable journey: “And then on May 20, it’ll be Melissa Jackson, the new basketball coach, and I think the 13th, we’re kind of looking to honor the ysu bowling team. They’re in the Final Four this weekend.”
Addressing the broader spectrum of YSU athletics, Camardo reflected on the challenges and changes faced by the football team, particularly the defense. With a light-hearted take on the situation, he suggested that a defensive overhaul might be a welcome change. “The bad news is that all the defensive players are transferring or have graduated. The good news is that all the defensive players have graduated transferring because the defense was pretty, pretty bad last year.”

While the YSU community may feel the sting of losing a valued coach like Calhoun, Camardo remained appreciative and understanding of the transitions. “When you got four little kids…and the business is a business, exactly. And it’s a business with the kids and with the coaches,” he says, acknowledging the reality of collegiate athletics and coaching careers.




MINERAL RIDGE, OH- Mineral Ridge’s volleyball coach, Heather Ault, has been making headlines as she leads the 7th and 8th grade volleyball teams to consecutive championships. Ault, who has been coaching this group for five years, credits her lifelong passion for volleyball and her strong connection with the girls for their success.

Ault’s coaching prowess is evident in the team’s exceptional performance, having won back-to-back championships and going undefeated in their league for two years. A proud moment for Ault and her team was when they secured a league victory for the fourth time during her coaching tenure.

The success of the Mineral Ridge volleyball team is a testament to the strong foundation laid by Ault. Her dedication to the sport and the close relationship she has with her players is evident as she mentions how players have wanted to come and play for her from a young age. Ault’s involvement with the girls even extends to her role as a fifth-grade teacher, where she uses her influence to foster enthusiasm for volleyball among her students.

Looking ahead, Ault is confident in the future of Mineral Ridge’s volleyball program, with a strong batch of freshmen and underclassmen ready to carry the torch. When asked about the possibility of coaching at the varsity level, Ault remains evasive, hinting that she’s not ruling out the idea as she focuses on her own children for now.

Ault’s impact as a coach and mentor goes beyond just her players; she’s a respected figure in the community. Andy Hake, who conducted the interview with Ault, acknowledges her exceptional coaching and teaching abilities, indicating the deep respect she has earned within and beyond the volleyball community.

With Ault at the helm, Mineral Ridge’s volleyball program is gearing up for a promising future, driven by passion, dedication, and a love for the game.



CANFIELD, OH- In the latest episode of YSN’s “Canfield Baseball Coach’s Corner,” host DJ Yokley sits down with Canfield baseball coach, Gary Knittle, to discuss the season opener and reflect on the development of players within the program. Coach Knittle, known as a mentor and leader in the Canfield community, provides valuable insights into player dynamics, coaching staff, and the upcoming spring break trip.

The conversation delved into the recent season opener, where the Canfield team secured a victory, despite the challenges posed by a young and relatively inexperienced group. Coach Knittle emphasizes the resilience and promise of the team’s freshmen, highlighting their willingness to learn and compete.
In addition to reviewing the successful start of the season, the dialogue touched upon the importance of off-field experiences in enhancing team dynamics and fostering lasting memories. Coach Knittle shared his enthusiasm for the upcoming spring break trip, emphasizing the role it plays in developing camaraderie and mutual respect among the players.

Moreover, the segment saw Coach Knittle’s reflections on the impact he aims to make on the players he mentors. He discussed his deep commitment to the holistic development of his players, not solely measured by wins and losses, but by the lasting impact on their lives beyond the playing field.

Through the candid and invigorating conversation, it’s evident that Coach Knittle’s dedication to the sport extends beyond the technical aspects of coaching. His holistic approach focuses on providing players with valuable life experiences and nurturing a strong sense of camaraderie.

The “Canfield Baseball Coach’s Corner” episode brings to light the passionate and multi-faceted nature of sports coaching, underscoring the countless impressions a dedicated coach can leave on the lives of the players under their guidance.



HANOVERTON OH- It’s time for another spring sports season! We know that it would t be complete without United softball.  This season the Eagles are looking to fly high in the EOAC under new head coach Jen Koons.  New is a loose term though, because Koons has been around the program for a while and is very familiar with what she has to work with.  They return a ton of speed on the base paths, and coach Koons promises they will try to cause chaos on the bases whenever possible. You can never sleep on the Eagles come softball season.

Coach Koons graciously took the time to chat with YSN’s Anthony Hartwig to help us preview the upcoming season.  They talk about what stars are returning in their dugout, the schedule they’ve put together to test themselves, and much more. Check out Episode 1 of Coach’s Corner with Jen Koons exclusively on YSN!

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