Cathell joins Pa. Football Coaches Hall of Fame
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Garry Cathell has attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association many times, so in many ways what happens at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg-East at 1 p.m. Saturday will be old hat.
All those other luncheons and banquets, though, won't have quite the gravitas this one will.
After all, he'll be one of the inductees.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that my family will come out here. My mother is getting up in age and to have her here and a lot of my former coaches and some of my players. ... I feel honored and excited,” Cathell, 56, said. “I really didn't put (a speech) together because I want it more from the heart. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to say, but I'll get a little choked up.”
Cathell, who has been the executive director of the PSFCA for the past 30 months, found out in March that he would be honored the weekend of the Big 33 game. He was among the finalists for induction in 2012, but had to wait another year for the call.
“People say that I don't have a lot of wins at the places I've coached, but they took into account my duties with the organization and my longevity,” Cathell said. “Things like that were factors as to why the guys put me into the Hall.”
To be considered for Hall of Fame entry a coach must have at least 100 wins, be over a certain age, have a minimum number of years as an assistant, collegiate coaching experience, if any, and a contribution to the sport.
Cathell has compiled a 107-131-4 record at four different high schools, including three in Pennsylvania. The Clairton alumnus started out at a school in Virginia, went to California (Pa.) University for two years, then moved back into the high school ranks to coach at Peters Township for 13 years, before going to Butler and, most recently, at Elizabeth Forward in 2010.
“The thing I miss the most is the actual football part of being a coach, and coaches will understand that,” Cathell said. “I was a head coach for 25 years and, a lot of times as a coach, you have to deal with what I call ‘the other stuff,' like fund-raising and discipline and stuff like that. But I liked going to practice, being around the kids and being around my coaches. Those are the things I will never forget.”
As the executive director of the PSFCA — a job he can have for life — Cathell doesn't have time to prowl the sideline anymore. What he has done is help establish the Big 33 East/West All-Star Game that pits players from the eastern and western sides of the state in a May matchup held at Mansion Park in Altoona.
He is also attempting to negotiate with Penn State, the Steelers and the Eagles to set up three permanent PSFCA sites so the public in different parts of the state can see their local inductees. Penn State will put its shrine in Beaver Stadium, while negotiations are ongoing with the Steelers for a spot in the Great Hall at Heinz Field and with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
“There's a lot of nice things for the kids and coaches,” Cathell said. “That's where you get the reward for the whole thing.”
Still, when the time for induction comes, Cathell will be thinking of all the people who helped him join the PSFCA Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
“It's fabulous to meet so many coaches in this thing and that's the honor of it all,” he said. “It's nice to have the guys on either side of the state that appreciate what you do.”
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