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Greensburg Central Catholic lures Jim Nesser back to coaching

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Monday, July 31, 2017, 6:36 p.m.
Jeanette basketball coach Jim Nesser during the WPIAL championship game Feb. 29, 2009, at AJ Palumbo Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Jeanette basketball coach Jim Nesser during the WPIAL championship game Feb. 29, 2009, at AJ Palumbo Center.
Jeannette coach Jim Nesser consoles Terrelle Pryor after losing to Aliquippa in the WPIALClass AA  basketball championship March 3, 2007, at  AJ Palumbo Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Jeannette coach Jim Nesser consoles Terrelle Pryor after losing to Aliquippa in the WPIALClass AA basketball championship March 3, 2007, at AJ Palumbo Center.

When a rekindled desire to coach again crossed paths with an ideal opportunity in which to make his return, Jim Nesser just followed the directions to his latest stop.

And suddenly, he is back in the WPIAL with another Westmoreland County program.

Nesser on Monday was named boys basketball coach at Greensburg Central Catholic, his alma mater.

“The opportunity brought me back. It popped up,” said Nesser, 57. “It was right place, right time.”

The maligned Nesser has not coached at the high school level since Hempfield opened his position five years ago. He led Jeannette to WPIAL and PIAA Class AA titles in 2008.

Nesser also had coaching stops at Yough, where he has taught for 31 years — he was named coach there at age 24 — along with Elizabeth Forward and Penn State Greater Allegheny.

Most recently, he spent a year as a volunteer assistant at Seton Hill.

He also has helped former GCC coach Greg Bisignani, the man he is replacing, in a consultant-type role.

“I kept my nose in,” Nesser said. “I had a great experience working with Greg. He will stay around and help me in some capacity.”

Bisignani, 50, was 187-32 with eight section titles in eight seasons. GCC went 25-2 last year after a 22-0 regular season.

“We are very pleased (with Nesser),” GCC athletic director Dan Mahoney said. “Jim has a great wealth of experience, and he's hard working and passionate about the game. He is GCC alumni and has worked with coach Bisignani during the past three years.”

Nesser, known for having a fiery personality on the sidelines, looks forward to the challenge of adapting to a game that has changed some since he last coached.

“I am intense because I am passionate,” he said. “I am not going to change who I am. It has worked for me. Coaches today talk about forming relationships. It used to be the coach told you what to do, and you did it. It's different now.

“I enjoy teaching and seeing guys get better.”

That said, the spirited coach has a different perspective on life. He had open-heart surgery five years ago at the Cleveland Clinic.

“It changes your views,” he said. “I enjoy people more. It's not about wins and losses. You find out how important people are.”

Nesser always wears black on the sidelines, another custom he wants to continue.

“Good guys wear black,” he said with a laugh.

Nesser was 58-32 at Hempfield in four seasons, and 72-14 in three years at Jeannette. At Elizabeth Forward, he led a turnaround. The team went 4-44 in his first two years but bounced back to win the program's first section title.

He calls that achievement one of his most memorable.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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