TITUSVILLE — Michael Grinder is bringing his up-tempo style closer to his roots.
The 1999 Seneca Valley graduate was named head coach of the women's basketball team at Geneva College last week.
He takes over for Lori Wynn, who led the Golden Tornadoes for the past eight seasons.
“Coach Grinder is a no-nonsense guy that has a competitive edge that we feel confident will translate in helping take our women's program to a new level,” said Geneva Director of Athletics Van Zanic in a press release. “He will work extremely hard to help our student athletes achieve their goals both on and off the court.”
Grinder, 38, coached the women's team at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville the last four seasons and pulled double-duty as the school's men's coach the past two campaigns.
Under his guidance, the women's team placed second in the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference during the 2017-18 season, the program's best effort in 12 years. Last season, the Panthers won the conference's regular-season title.
Grinder coached four first-team All-WPCC women's players at Titusville as well as 14 All-Academic players in the conference.
“When I took over at Titusville, the program wasn't much of anything,” said Grinder. “I recruited a lot of local girls, gave them a chance to play in college and helped them develop.”
Geneva, a member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference, is coming off a 4-20 season. Grinder is hoping to instill his style, which will pick up the pace of play and hopefully, the win total.
“I coach to give the players more freedom on the court,” he said. “It will be a switch from what they're used to running, but I've watched film from last season and it won't be hard for them to learn. We have nine returning players from last year's roster.
“I know the area (around Geneva). I'll be recruiting a lot of players from the WPIAL, District 10 and 9.”
Grinder was a member of SV's varsity boys team for three seasons under coach Dave Podbielski before playing collegiately at Gordon College (Mass.) and Simpson University (Calif.) where he played point guard, shooting guard and small forward.
He later played abroad in Palestine, Guatemala and Macedonia and coached U18 and U20 teams in Moldova and Palestine.
“Being involved with the international game has added to my abilities as a coach,” said Grinder. “I was brought up in traditional basketball here in the United States and sometimes teams are over-coached. But when you see the game in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, they all have different styles. There's less timeouts, so as a coach, you have to rely on your players making more on-court decisions.”
Grinder is excited about not only his new challenge on the court, but new opportunities off of it.
“I loved playing basketball and I've stayed involved this long because it's a great way to meet people with different backgrounds and perspectives,” he said. “It has given me the platform to go overseas and share my faith.”
Grinder lives with his wife, Shannon, and two sons, Josiah and Evan, in Titusville. The family will soon move to Beaver Falls or the vicinity.