Pacak thankful for gridiron volunteers
MONESSEN — Andy Pacak has always felt that Monessen is a different community than those that surround it in the Mid-Mon Valley.
And as the Monessen football coach watched his hungry players eat lunch in the Monessen Elementary Center cafeteria Monday afternoon between practices, he was again reminded why he feels his community is so special.
“You just can't say enough about the people in the community who really rise up and do what they have done for our program. It's touching to me, as a coach of these kids,” Pacak said. “But I'm not surprised because I see that kind of reaction from people in this town every day.”
What Pacak was talking about was the chain of events that led to his team being able to be fed between practices during summer camp this season.
Due to tough budget cuts that had to be made by the Monessen School District, the district for the second year is unable to provide lunch and dinner for its athletic teams and band during summer camp.
Monessen's football team is being fed, however, as planned because of many people who made the effort to raise the money needed.
Two main fundraisers were a Monessen alumni flag football game, which was spearheaded by resident Bruce Davis, and a purse bash, which was coordinated by resident Jim Smith.
“The alumni flag game and the purse bash are the big reason we are able to do what we're doing now,” Pacak said. “I do understand the school's plight. The budget is the budget and it all trickles downhill. The state cuts their budget and the district needs to do something. Teachers have been laid off. Surely we had to take our share of the cuts as well. Still, we had a need and thank God for those who came through for our kids.
“And the volunteers we have, most of them have no kids in the program. People come out of the woodwork to just help out. It does your heart good to experience that. They're just Greyhounds. To us, they are angels.”
Pacak says it is a “Monessen thing” that people just develop a love of the program that never goes away.
“People of all ages just have a sense of wanting to do something for the kids of Monessen. It really is amazing,” he said. “I wish I could recognize every single one of them in some way, shape or form. But I'd probably forget one or two of them and feel really bad. But I do know that these people don't do this for recognition. They do it for the love of the program, for the kids.
“I would just say this: Everyone who helped, they know who they are. They are Greyhounds, for sure.”
Pacak said he doesn't want to know what would have happened had those fundraisers not raised the money to feed the players.
“To be honest, I think as coaches we would not have let that happen,” Pacak said, shaking his head. “Something would have happened to find the money, I'm sure of that. I don't care if I would have had to go door-to-door. We would have found a way to get it done.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.