‘He saw the best in everybody:’ Mentor volleyball coach remembered

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MENTOR, Ohio-- Volleyball courts across the east side of Cleveland were quiet Tuesday as news of the death of Mentor High School Volleyball Coach Steve Scherlacher spread.

Scherlacher, 40, was in his third season as the head coach of Mentor, and was well-known around the area as a founder and leader of the Eastside Volleyball Club.

“He was somebody that he saw the best in everybody and he wanted to help them reach their best whether you were a coach, whether you were a player,” said Erik Poje, a coach at the Eastside Volleyball Club.

According to friends, Scherlacher missed a meeting and then didn’t show up for volleyball practice on Monday, so they became worried and asked police to check on him. A cause of death for Scherlacher has not been released.

At Mentor High School on Tuesday, the volleyball team remembered their coach, mentor and motivator.

“He always said that the friendships and relationships we got out of volleyball was the most important thing to him and as long as we had those then he was so happy with it,” said Marissa Peoples, a senior and team captain.

Two years ago, Scherlacher came back to Mentor as the head coach and lead the team through two successful seasons .

“I knew I could turn the volleyball program over and I didn’t have much to worry about. I knew it was going to get done right, the right way and he’s going to be awful tough to replace,” said Mentor High School Athletic Director Jeff Cassella.

Scherlacher was the director of the Eastside Volleyball Club, which operates a successful Junior Olympic program of 40 teams each year.

“We may not be the best in Cleveland, but we think we do it the best and that’s because of him, because of how he wanted it run. He didn’t want anyone to take the easy way,” said Poje, who is now the only founder of the club remaining.

Those who knew him said he was able to push kids to be the best possible athletes and also help them balance life. Cassella said Scherlacher understood the importance of student athletes, an important quality in a head coach.

“He really took into account their personal lives, what they have going outside of the sport and was always teaching them life lessons, which I think is so important in sports,” said Mentor High School Volleyball Assistant Coach Brianne Hrusovsky. Hrusovsky was a player at Mentor when Scherlacher was an assistant coach from 2005 to 2008.

Lesli Peoples had three daughters play volleyball for Scherlacher. She said he was a coach the players and parents could trust.

“When I dropped my kids off to volleyball, I knew they were in a safe place, I knew they were in good hands and he’s definitely going to be missed very much,” Peoples said.

The volleyball team was scheduled to play a game Tuesday night, but it was canceled. The team’s senior night is scheduled for Thursday.

Funeral service for Coach Scherlacher will be 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Spear-Mulqueeny Funeral Home in Painesville. The family will receive friends Friday, Oct. 12 from 2 p.m. to 8: p.m. at the Mentor Fine Arts Center.

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