Colosimo looking to build Valley into perennial contender
Since rebooting his football coaching career at Valley, Muzzy Colosimo received quite an honor. One might call it a real resume-booster.
Colosimo recently found out he will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Football Coaches Hall of Fame in June.
But the 63-year-old won't need to add the accomplishment to his portfolio any time soon. Valley's latest coach appears to be taking root, committed to turning his new program into a perennial contender, whether it takes one year — or seven?
“It's 70 or death for me,” the long-time Greensburg Central Catholic coach offered.
Despite two knee replacements and shoulder surgery, Colosimo still has plenty of energy. He said mentally he's in his 30s, and his knack for setting goals, even those people tell him he can't achieve, remains vibrant.
“The Hall of Fame is kind of the exclamation point to the beginning of my career,” Colosimo said. “But before I die, I want to be the winningest coach in Westmoreland County.”
Colosimo's career mark is 143-46 in 17 seasons, all at Greensburg Central Catholic.
“I like to set goals for the kids, myself and the school,” he said. “At GCC we played for three WPIAL titles. When I first got there, our biggest game was playing Riverview.
“We want to think bigger. I never back down from a good fight.”
Hired in January to replace Chad Walsh — Walsh was not asked back despite going 12-8 in two seasons with back-to-back playoff trips, a financial matter involving the booster club likely playing a role in his exit — Colosimo is fast getting acclimated at Valley, where he served as an assistant in 1994.
“I love the school board people here and the kids are awesome,” Colosimo said.
The new coach has placed much of his attention on weight-training. Colosimo served as the strength coach at Greensburg Central for eight years, so that part of the game was always one of his top priorities.
That explains the escalated weight program he put into action just days after he was hired.
Assistants Ron Balla, Frank Blair and Willie Colosimo, his son, will work closely with the offseason program, which has players together at the fieldhouse a few times a week.
“We have a lot of things planned; it's going to be fun,” Colosimo said. “We'll have contests, a tug-of-war and drill work. It will help get us ready for 7-on-7s.”
Players are putting in the time so far, and working on their goal of building an immovable line.
“He will be our third new head coach,” senior tight end and linebacker Vinny DiCarolis said of Colosimo. “We all know what he did at GCC. Muzzy tells it like it is. If you're not here in the winter and spring, you're not going to play.
“Valley always has talent, but not the beef to go with it. With the offseason workout program, we're hoping to change that.”
Senior lineman Logan Ludwiczak sides with DiCarolis.
“We really didn't have a lifting program before,” Ludwiczak said. “(Colosimo) came in and assembled us together. Now we have one, and players are showing up.”
Getting players into colleges has become Colosimo's forte. He has a phone book-sized list of college contacts; his cell phone can't hold them all.
One of his better teams at Greensburg Central had eight players go on to play in college. His former players are scattered across the country, some now serving as coaches.
“Why can't we get recruits out of Valley?” Colosimo said. “It doesn't make sense to me with the athletes here.”
To begin shedding a light on that concern, Colosimo plans to have a recruiting day at Valley on May 6. He and McKeesport assistant Jim Wehner are organizing the event, which will allow high school and colleges coaches to interact and talk to prospects.
On May 17, Colosimo is helping to put together a player combine for college coaches from the Division I-AA, Division II and Division III levels through the Westmoreland County Coaches Association at Hempfield.
“As I have said before, it's not just about the wins and losses,” Colosimo said. “If you can put kids in colleges, you have won.”
Walsh helped Valley regain its stride after the team broke a 22-game losing streak and began to make progress in the Allegheny Conference. But Colosimo wants the swagger to continue.
“At Greensburg Central, we never believed anyone could beat us,” Colosimo said. “We want to instill that here. When I was here in ‘94, Valley was known as a tough town. You didn't hear ‘I can't' or ‘I won't.' We don't want to hear that now either.”
Colosimo decided to give up his coaching position with the Pittsburgh Passion women's team. He thought he could do both jobs, but will devote all of his attention to Valley.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.