Jeff Javorek wasn’t planning on staying at West Geauga forever, but he also wasn’t planning on leaving so soon.
After five years at the helm of the Wolverines’ boys basketball program, Javorek is parting ways with his alma mater, where he graduated from in 2006. He accumulated a 65-54 record, including a 17-8 mark this past season.
Javorek resigned his position as head coach on June 16, on the heels of learning his contract would not be renewed.
“It’s unfortunate circumstances,” he said. “We’d like to try to get through Josh’s (Irwin) final season, but it just came down to the point of a multitude of factors, and I think the administration just wanted to go in a different direction, whatever that means, obviously, with the success we’ve had.
“So, it’s unfortunate, but I’m using it as an opportunity to move on to bigger and better things.”
Javorek said he was firm in the manner he ran his program, what it stood for, and he liked to push the envelope, but he didn’t always see eye to eye with first-year athletic director Ben Stehura.
In his departure from West Geauga, Javorek said he plans to continue coaching basketball at the Spire Institute in Geneva, where he’s been training athletes and running camps for the past month. He recently accepted a position as a director of regional basketball operations there and will work with the national prep and postgraduate teams.
Before taking the helm at West Geauga, he coached a couple of years at Lake Erie College. And prior to that he finished up a tenure as an assistant in the NBA G-League, he said.
“I was bouncing around in limbo and just kind of was in the right place at the right time when I started coaching at West Geauga,” Javorek said. “I was moving back to Cleveland, and it was my alma mater, and, basically, the program had kind of gone down into the tubes as of late.
“And it was just a good opportunity to get a head coaching job, give back to a community and a program I was a part of and very successful in, and we were able to turn it around. I never thought it was going to be long term.”
Javorek took over the West Geauga reins during the 2015-16 campaign, with the Wolverines coming off a pair of 1-11 marks in the Chagrin Valley Conference the previous two seasons.
In his third year at the helm, Javorek led the West G cagers to a 19-4 record with a 12-2 mark in the CVC for the program’s first league banner since 2004, when he was a sophomore on the Wolverines’ Division II regional runner-up team.
“It was big,” Javorek said about leading West Geauga back to a conference championship for the first time in 14 years. “We knew we had a lot of work to do, and we kind of had to lay it out that it was going to take some time. And we kind of just fell into fortune with a kid by the name of Josh Irwin, who decided to come to West G. And that was kind of the turning point in the program in my tenure.”
Javorek had three senior starters returning for that 2017-2018 title campaign, including third-year varsity veteran Jax Shenkel, but the addition of a 6-foot-5 freshman by the name of Josh Irwin, who arrived from Mayfield, added a big man to the starting unit whom the Wolverines sought. Irwin averaged a double-double of 15.2 points and 11 rebounds as a freshman during that title run.
Now a 6-foot-7 rising senior, Irwin is West Geauga’s all-time career leader in points and rebounds and is committed to continuing his career at Division I Youngstown State University. Irwin is also highly committed to coach Javorek, leaving his senior season with a question mark.
Although Irwin has led the Wolverines to a 48-24 record the past three years, coach Javorek began his work to build the program from the bottom up before his star player’s arrival.
“Before I took over, West G had a five-win season and I think a four-win season,” Javorek said. “We started taking baby steps, we revamped our whole entire youth program, we revamped our middle school program, and we got all the pieces into place. And these past couple years we really started to see the fruition.”
Javorek also had the pleasure to coach 2017 graduate Micah Young, who was the freshman coach at West Geauga this past year, as well as his cousin Stephen Javorek, a 2019 graduate, and standout guard Peyton Bissler, a 2020 graduate who averaged 20 points per game this past season.
Javorek said he and his coaching staff, which included Irwin’s dad, Doug Irwin, as his varsity assistant, were focused on a sense of togetherness from West Geauga’s youth program to the middle school program and to the high school program.
“If you ask anybody around here, we’re at middle school games, we’re at youth games, our players are visible in all those settings,” Javorek said. “And we try to really instill a sense of community and giving back, standing for something, because all these little kids are growing up, and they want to be you in high school.
“And then I think the other thing we instilled in our players is preparation for life; how to show up every day, work hard every day, be positive every day and give it 110 percent. I think we were able to do that over our five years there.”
Any time a coach can take over a program and leave it in a much better place, that’s called a successful stint, Javorek said.
“That’s what I’m most proud of at West G,” he said.