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Thomas Jefferson's new baseball coach's philosophies go beyond diamond

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Brandon Turley has some ground to cover before he arrives at Thomas Jefferson as its new baseball coach.

Turley currently is teaching at Stevens-Henager College in Ogden, Utah.

“I have a really good friend that saw that (the TJ job) was open,” Turley said. “When I heard about this, (my wife and I) decided this was our chance.”

As far west as Turley may be now, he certainly is familiar with the area.

His wife, Joyelle, graduated from Thomas Jefferson, and Turley earned his master's degree at Pitt after he and Joyelle graduated from Southern Virginia University.

“We wanted to get back there because we love the area,” Turley said. “(Joyelle) grew up in the area. We lived there on and off for six years.”

During his first stay in Western Pennsylvania, Turley was coach of the baseball program at Valley for a year.

As the Vikings' coach from 2005 to '06, Turley compiled an 11-10 overall record and led Valley to its first WPIAL playoff victory in more 20 years.

After the season, he headed back to his alma mater to take the same position.

Turley, who was a pitcher and second baseman at Southern Virginia, was there for three years before bouncing around baseball, including a stint as the general manager and pitching coach of the semi-pro Woodstock River Bandits of the Valley Baseball League.

For the past two years in Utah, he has been teaching the game to youngsters.

“Lately, I've just been coaching my son's 10-year old team and it's been great. It's been a lot of fun.”

Turley inherits a team that went 13-9 overall, 8-4 in section play, and made it to the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals a year ago.

As much of a football school as Thomas Jefferson is, Turley believes the baseball program can be just as strong and looks forward to working with athletic director/football coach Bill Cherpak.

“With the athletes we have there and the tradition of the football program and how the baseball team's been doing the last couple of years, it's been really exciting,” Turley said.

“I've been playing phone tag with Bill but look forward to talking with him and getting to know him.”

The Turleys will move to the area in December after Brandon finishes his semester at Stevens-Henager.

He also will serve as a substitute teacher in the West Jefferson Hills School District until there is a full-time opening.

As much in-the-dugout experience as Turley has, his coaching philosophy goes far beyond the diamond.

“I'm here to build a program that will hopefully be a great winning program but at the same time develop great, winning young men,” he said.

“Men that are going to go on to college and have successful careers.”

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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