Like a good neighbor ... Charleroi was there
When it became apparent that the remnants of Hurricane Sandy were going to continue dumping water all week on the soggy, green turf at Monessen's Memorial Stadium, it seemed obvious that the field would be unplayable for tonight's WPIAL Class A first round playoff game against Apollo-Ridge.
As Monessen Athletic Director Gina Naccarato needed to come up with an alternative plan for the “home game,” there was never a doubt in her mind where to turn.
“Charleroi is the only stadium we considered,” said Naccarato, who huddled with Monessen Principal Brian Sutherland and Greyhound coach Andy Pacak over a site with artificial surface.
“It's one of the nicest stadiums around,” she said. “It's really beautiful. From the playing surface to the rest of the facilities ... it's just beautiful. When I was there before I was really impressed.”
After Naccarato called Charleroi A.D. Bill Wiltz, he then checked with Charleroi Superintendent Dr. Brad Ferko and told Naccarato to bring the game across the river.
In exchange for using the stadium free of charge, Monessen is giving Charleroi the concession stand sales for the night.
“Really, we can't be happier with the kindness Charleroi extended to us and I can't say enough about the help of Bill Wiltz,” Naccarato said. “This probably would not have come together so well without him.”
Pacak was equally as appreciative, saying, “I love the people of Charleroi ... except when we play them. I have great respect for Bill Wiltz and that district and it shows the class they have over there to give us that fine facility. We are humbled and grateful.”
Monessen's football team also used the field to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“As much as it has been raining, once we stepped on that field they have, it was as if it never rained at all,” Pacak said. “That's how immaculate that surface is.”
When told of the glowing remarks he was receiving from the folks across the river, Wiltz seemed almost embarrassed.
“We just felt that one day we may need their help and they will help us,” he said. “We are more than willing to help out when we are called on. They were in a jam. We're neighbors.”
Wiltz added that the district is not afraid to show off its new facility, which it is very proud of.
Naccarato said not only will the fans of Monessen and Apollo-Ridge enjoy the facilities at the one-year-old stadium, but it is a close proximity for Greyhound fans.
“We wanted to make sure our fans were accommodated and we wanted to play as close to home as possible for our fans,” he said. “The closer the game, the more of them will show up. It was just a good situation and we are grateful.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.