Charleroi soccer celebration plans continue to grow

| Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, 9:33 p.m.

Preparations are moving into high gear for the commemoration of 50 years of soccer as a varsity for sport for boys at Charleroi Area High School.

The celebration will now cover two days, Sept. 7 and 8.

“We've had very good response to what is planned,” said Tom Villella, varsity coach at CAHS and event co-chairman. “We are looking forward to a very memorable two days of celebrating a special chapter in the storied tradition of soccer in Charleroi and the Mon Valley.”

Highlighting the activities will be recognition of the All Half-Century Team comprised of the top boys soccer players in Charleroi Area High history. The elite group determined by a selection committee of coaches comprises the following:

Mike Borelli, Joe Bosley, Chuck Bruce, Keith Conte, Lewis DiBernardi, Josh Gray, Jack Jacobs, Dennis Laskey, Darrin Lupori, Ronnie Lupori, Rob Maglicic, Cal Montgomery, Luke Paglia, Robin Rossi, Chad Roule, Vince Russell, Jeff Soles, and George Watkins.

They will be honored Sept. 7 at an awards dinner hosted by the anniversary committee at the Charleroi Elks.

Registration and cocktails will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will be at 7 p.m. Cost for the event, which is open to all interested persons, is $30 per person and tickets must be purchased in advance. Reservations are available by contacting Villella at 412-956-3881.

The Sept. 8 festivities will be part of the WPIAL Section 6 game between the Cougars and California Area at 7 p.m. at the CAHS Stadium in Fallowfield. The All Half-Century Team will be recognized at halftime.

“All of the Half-Century Team players have indicated they will attend,” Villella said. “We are deeply grateful to them for accepting our invitation to be part of the celebration. These men represent the finest group of players who wore the Red and Black during the first 50 years of soccer at Charleroi. Their presence will provide a lot of wonderful memories for those in attendance and will serve as an inspiration to this year's team.

“Nearly 1,000 young men have played soccer for Charleroi since the start of the program in 1963 and those selected to the All Half-Century Team represent some of the best in the history of the school as well as the mid-Monongahela Valley.”

The selection panel included Villella, who is in his second stint as head coach of the Cougars, and former coaches Jon Kruczek, Dennis Laskey, Ed Corona, George Watkins and Lee Hall.

In addition to Montgomery, Villella and those coaches the planning committee includes Jack Jacobs, Jim Rue, Ron Hostovich, Frank Gricar and Joe Cheplic.

Cheplic is president of the Charleroi Cougar Booster Club; Gricar is presient of the Charleroi-Fallowfield-Dunlevy youth soccer organization and also a member of the CCBC Board; Hostovich is a member of the boards of both organizations, and Rue, varsity women's soccer coach at Charleroi, is a member of the Booster Club board.

Jacobs is in charge of the awards dinner.

“Everyone has been devoting a lot of time and energy to the anniversary celebration,” Villella said. “It's truly a team effort and we appreciate the support and involvement we have been receiving.” Villella said he is hopeful of ‘filling the house' for the Sept. 8 ceremonies at the stadium.

“We can't emphasize enough that it is open to all former players, student managers, cheerleaders, anyone who has been part of Charleroi soccer over the years,” he said. “And of course we are encouraging all fans who have supported our teams to join us that night.”

Villella and Montgomery also reaffirmed that the committee will welcome benevolent support in the group's fund-raising efforts as well.

The Charleroi soccer program was organized in 1963 under the guidance of the late Reno Cheti, who served as the first head coach. The Cougars were part of a seven-member WPIAL alignment that also included Monongahela, Springdale, Chartiers Valley, South Fayette, Snowden and Fox Chapel.

Cheti served as head coach from 1963-1965 and again from 1967-1969. Lee Hall was at the helm in 1966 when Cheti was on sabbatical leave of absence. Succeeding them were Kruczek, 1970-79; Laskey, 1979-83; Corona, 1984-90; Villella, 1991-2000, and Watkins, 2001-2010. Villella returned to the post in 2011 in succeeding Watkins, who resigned after the 2010 campaign.

All former Charleroi Area soccer players, team managers and others seeking more information about the celebration should contact Villella at 412-956-3881 or Montgomery at 724-565-7030.

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