Sewickley Herald honors Quaker Valley coach Jerry Veshio as Man of the Year

Friday, April 6, 2018 | 3:18 PM

Retired Quaker Valley educator Jerry Veshio talks about his team more than his leadership.

Veshio, former athletic director and teacher, retired in 2011 then returned, two days before the 2017 season to lead the Quaker Valley football team as head coach. And perhaps just as unexpectedly, the team captured its first WPIAL championship — with a 2-0 win over Aliquippa — at Heinz Field in November.

Three weeks later, he led the team to its first PIAA state championship in Hershey.

“One major reason why the team flourished that season is because the assistant coaches stayed on,” Veshio said. “That was a pivotal point in my mind. The second step was meeting with the players and keeping us focused on the immediate goals. We never wavered from that.”

For his contributions to the community, Veshio, of Sewickley, has been named the Sewickley Herald’s Man of the Year for the newspaper’s 42nd annual Sewickley Herald Man, Woman & Citizen of the Year celebrating people and organizations whose commitment drives community spirit. The event is set for May 11 at the Edgeworth Club.

For Veshio, returning to Quaker Valley might have been a natural choice: It was the place he’d always been. He graduated from Quaker Valley High School in 1970 and started his teaching career there in 1976. He taught science at the junior high. After earning his master’s degree, he became an assistant principal there in the late 1990s.

He became athletic director while maintaining his teaching status at the high school until he retired. He began coaching track and field in 1978, which he still does. He also was a swimming coach, and football coach.

All told, he coached for more than 40 years.

So when an unexpected resignation left the team without a head football coach, Quaker Valley athletic director Mike Mastroianni thought of Veshio, even though he hadn’t coached football in about 30 years.

“If there were any one person who knows the pulse of the school district and community it would be Jerry,” Mastroianni said. “He has great judgment in how to lead in so many different areas.”

Mastroianni, also a Quaker Valley graduate, remembers how Veshio hired him, and he considers his former boss a mentor.

“We needed the best candidate at such a late time with all of those leadership strengths and fortunate enough to have Jerry and his commitment to the community over a lifetime is immeasurable,” Mastroianni said.

Veshio said his approach was to keep the team and the coaches focused on what they were doing that day.

“We focused on what we need to do to get better and if we do that we’ll have success,” he said. “I never wavered from that message.”

Mastroianni called the winning moment “surreal.”

“But it happened to good people and terrific kids,” he said. “They willed themselves to do it.”

Veshio said of the 2017 season: “It’s exciting for our community. I’ve commented many times about how it made me excited to see everyone excited and how it drew everyone together. All corners of our community were enthralled watching what was going on.”

Kimberly Palmiero is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.