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Longtime QV athlete, coach Jerry Veshio to be inducted into school's hall of fame

| Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

Jerry Veshio graduated from college and got an immediate job offer. A guy who was fast on the track was on the fast track.

This was 1974, and Veshio had just left Ohio Northern University with a bachelor's degree in health. He wanted to teach, but didn't have certification and was planning to return to Ohio Northern in the fall to get it.

Then came the offer. The professional World Football League was starting and the Jacksonville Sharks asked Veshio whether he wanted to be their equipment manager. It was a job with promise — one, as it transpired, promised nothing.

“I went to work, but before I got there, Jacksonville went bankrupt,” he said. “I graduated with, essentially, a degree I couldn't do anything with. I went to Slippery Rock (University) for certification, then started to substitute teach and coach in the Quaker Valley schools.”

It was a fabulous individual homecoming and the beginning of an enjoyable career. Veshio would end up teaching health and physical education and coaching at his alma mater for 30-plus years. Although he retired from the classroom in June 2011, he is still head coach of the varsity boys and girls track teams.

Veshio, 60, will be inducted into the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame the weekend of Sept. 28-30. He will enter as an athlete and a coach along with five other individuals and the 1971-72 boys basketball team.

All inductees will be honored at the home football game against Steel Valley that Friday evening and at a banquet at 11 a.m. that Sunday at Sewickley Heights Country Club.

Although it isn't Bedford Falls, Sewickley has been Veshio's home for 56 of 60 years — all but that time at Ohio Northern. And it has been a wonderful life there, through high school, as a professional, in athletics and for his family. Veshio and his wife, Leslie, raised two sons there: Brian and J.J.

Veshio has done just about everything at his alma mater but manage the football concession stand — and he likely would do that if asked. Veshio also has been head football coach (1984-86), head swimming coach, an assistant principal and the athletic director.

“Jerry was a fantastic athletic director,” said Gene Klein, longtime head coach of boys soccer. “He cares about every student-athlete. He has a tremendous passion for Quaker Valley. He probably has QV tattooed on his heart.”

Mike Mastroianni, Veshio's successor as AD in 2009, also admires his tutor.

“I don't believe anyone has served this district in so many positions. As the athletic director, I hope he coaches as long as he wants.”

Veshio's role as an athlete is impressive as well. He enjoyed playing football in the late 1960s, a running back-slot back who was employed occasionally at defensive back.

“I was mainly an offensive player,” Veshio said. “We almost always had two platoons, which was almost unheard of then. We had a large number of kids playing.”

His junior season, 1968, was memorable. The Quakers did not allow a point while winning their first six games. Then they lost to Freedom by a point, ending their WPIAL title aspirations.

The Quakers would finish 8-1, but this was an era when only undefeated teams could qualify for championship games. And if there were more than two unbeaten teams in a classification, Gardner Points would determine the finalists, leaving some perfect squads out.

“There wasn't a playoff system like they have now,” Veshio said. “No playoffs for us.”

Veshio preferred track, though.

He was a jumper and sprinter as a junior and senior.

He tried track at Ohio Northern, but that didn't work well and he eventually left the team.

Amid the personal plaudits, Veshio wanted to praise Kenny Johns and Ed Perry, his predecessors as track coach and AD, respectively. He said both were excellent mentors.

Apparently, so was he.

Rick Shrum is a freelance writer.

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