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24-Year-Old Foldi Replaces Departed Clifford

CADIZ — Aaron Foldi will not be trying to re-invent the wheel at Harrison Central.

The 24-year-old simply wants to add his own style to the foundation that already exists inside the Huskies’ basketball program.

Foldi was formally hired as the new Harrison Central boys basketball coach Thursday afternoon during a special meeting of the Harrison Hills Board of Education. He takes over for Justin Clifford, who had a highly successful 12-year stint as the head coach, but stepped down to become the Director of Athletics at St. Clairsville earlier this month.

“I am definitely very excited and happy about this opportunity,” Foldi said. “It honestly felt like I was on Cloud 9 when I found out I had gotten the job. It’s been really humbling to hear such positive feedback from different people I had taught with at Indian Creek and also people of the Harrison Central community welcoming me. I am looking forward to getting started.”

Along with his coaching duties, Foldi, who spent this past school year teaching and coaching at Indian Creek, was hired as a K-6 intervention specialist at Harrison Central.

Foldi graduated from Indian Creek in 2016 and was a four-year mainstay for the Redskins and head coach Joe Dunlevy.

“Coach Dunlevy has had a huge impact on me both in terms of basketball and personally,” Foldi said. “He’s been like a second father to me. He taught me about mentality and getting people to buy into a program. Those are things I want to take with me to Harrison Central.”

After his prep career, he attended Franciscan University in Steubenville and played for two seasons under coach Joe Wallace.

Upon stepping away from his playing career, Foldi got his first taste of coaching. He spent the 2018-19 season as the junior varsity coach at Steubenville Catholic Central. He returned to Franciscan, as a senior in college, and worked as a student assistant for the Barons.

“A lot of my coaching philosophy is surrounded with a lot of what Coach Wallace believes in at Franciscan,” Foldi said. “He gets his players to give 110% and play a blue-collar style of basketball. Off the court, though, he’s big on creating a positive environment for student-athletes.”

Foldi got his first taste of Harrison Central in 2020-21 when he did his student teaching at the school and worked under Clifford for that season.

“Working under Justin for that one season had a big impact on me,” Foldi said. “He has a culture in place, and I want to build off of it what he’s created through my own style.”

Upon landing a teaching job at Creek, Foldi worked under Dunlevy last season.

On top of working under Dunlevy with the boys basketball team, Foldi was also the Redskins’ boys soccer coach last season. It was his first foray into soccer.

“I had never played soccer and prior to last season, I had never coached soccer,” Foldi admitted. “But, it was a great experience because it taught me how to face adversity, which is a big part of coaching, and to be able to coach a sport I hadn’t played before.”

Since Foldi isn’t too far removed from his time at Harrison Central, he will not be walking into a meeting with his new players blindly next week.

“Most of the guys know me, but I plan to meet with them and go over the expectations for the summer and what to expect as we move toward the season,” Foldi said.

Foldi will be assisted by Donnie Madzia, who has worked under Clifford the last few seasons. Madzia was the Huskies head coach for a long stint when the school opened and actually guided the program to its lone district title in boys basketball.

“I am excited to be back in the Harrison Central community,” Foldi said. “I feel truly blessed to be inheriting these talented athletes who have a great work ethic. I am really looking forward to getting started.”

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