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Gateway grad grateful for special return to hometown

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | The Times Express
Dave Slovina came home to Gateway High School on April 6, 2013. He is an assistant coach for the Pickerington Central (Ohio) boys lacrosse team.

Dave Slovina graduated from Gateway in 1988, and he made many memories as a member of the Gators varsity football championship teams during his high school years.

Fast forward to Saturday, and Slovina returned to the field he called home, although the surroundings have changed a little bit in 25 years.

Slovina lives near Columbus, Ohio, and serves as an assistant coach for the Pickerington Central boys lacrosse program.

The Tigers varsity and JV teams played at Gateway's Antimarino Stadium on Saturday, and Slovina said it was a surreal feeling to be back home in this capacity.

“I grew up playing on this field and won two (football) championships here,” he said.

“I couldn't wait to get back here. I will always be a Gator, and to bring my 15-year-old son, Zach, down here to play on the same field I made so many great memories, it was very special.”

Slovina said his son was equally excited to be a part of the games on Saturday.

“In my house in Columbus, I still have all my Gateway stuff on display,” Slovina said.

“I still have the framed picture taken from when we beat North Hills, 7-6, at Three Rivers Stadium,” Slovina said. “Zach knows all about that. Nobody came in here and messed with us on this field.”

Pickerington Central's varsity teams beat Penn-Trafford, 16-1, and Gateway, 15-0, and the Tigers JV squad upended Gateway, 11-1.

After high school, Slovina joined the U.S. Navy and retired in 2008 after 20 years of service.

He now is an executive at a company in Columbus. He has lived in the Columbus area with his family for the past nine years.

Slovina got into coaching lacrosse a little more than four years ago when Zach picked up the sport.

“I love coaching kids, and I wanted to always be like my coaches at Gateway and give back to the kids,” he said.

“They taught us so much more than just the sport. It was about life, too. I have four more years of coaching high school lacrosse with my son on the team. It's a great feeling.”

The idea for this game — the first regular-season varsity and JV home games for Gateway as fully sanctioned members of the WPIAL — was born in the fall. Slovina and Gateway head coach John Washington were good friends in high school, and the two stayed in touch since their time at Gateway.

“We've both been waiting for this for a long time,” Slovina said.

Slovina said he is pleased to see lacrosse take hold at Gateway.

“What John and the others who want lacrosse to succeed at Gateway have done is amazing,” Slovina said.

“If lacrosse was a sport at Gateway when I was in high school, I probably would've played lacrosse over baseball. It's a great sport. I love it. We want to keep this tradition going.”

“Whether they come to Columbus or we come here, I hope we can play every year.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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