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Leechburg hires Ceraso as girls basketball coach

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 11:42 p.m.

Just after he finished college, Joel Ceraso began his pursuit of a basketball coaching career. He helped at camps. He joined junior high coaching staffs, first at Highlands and later at Leechburg, where he moved up to junior varsity.

After the birth of his daughter, Taylor, in 2001, Ceraso, a 1984 Leechburg graduate, put his aspirations aside and focused on fatherhood.

Ceraso, 47, will soon add a new chapter to his career.

On Wednesday night, the Leechburg Area School District's board members approved him as the new girls varsity basketball coach.

“There was a time where I thought, ‘Man, this is what I want to do. I want to coach,' ” said Ceraso, who accumulated most of his experience as an assistant to Larry Ondako, Leechburg's former boys coach.

Ceraso, a first-time varsity coach and newcomer to girls basketball, succeeds Teresa Edinger, who coached two seasons. He inherits a program that was winless last season.

“I have tempered expectations,” Ceraso said. “I think if I can teach these girls first and foremost to be competitive and then get them to be interested enough to become skilled, we'll go from there.”

Slightly more than a decade ago, Ceraso aimed to follow Ondako as the man in charge of Leechburg's boys. That plan fizzled as Ondako showed no signs of slowing and Ceraso raised his daughter; he also has a son, Michael, who is 7.

When Leechburg's girls position opened earlier this spring, friends notified Ceraso.

“I wasn't really looking for a job, but since it was a Leechburg, I decided I'd try,” he said.

Leechburg interviewed five candidates, athletic director Mark Jones said. Three received second interviews.

“I wanted somebody doing the right things as far as building basic skills and getting them involved in the offseason,” Jones said. “With the state of the program, (Ceraso) stressed in his interview that basics would be the focus for the new few years.”

At Wednesday's meeting, school board members voted, 7-2, to hire Ceraso after they voted, 5-4, to decline Ernie Sipolino as the candidate.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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