BVA to open wrestling job

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

Unless there is a dramatic turn of events before then, one of the items the Belle Vernon Area School Board will vote on at Monday's meeting will be the opening of the varsity wrestling job held by coach Jack Jolley.

There is no doubt that school boards have the right to open any position and take a look at a program's direction. That is their mandate.

However, the simple question I have in this case is why?

Jolley has an outstanding reputation throughout WPIAL circles as a coach and teacher.

He has served as the head wrestling coach at BVA for 16 years and in his current stint pretty much rebuilt the program from ashes.

His 2013 BVA team reached the WPIAL team quarterfinals, the best such finish in the program's history.

Under Jolley's guidance, approximately 10 wrestlers have received college scholarships including two this year - Adam Nickelson and Nathan Russo - and by Jolley's estimation numerous others could have gone on to wrestle in college if they had chosen to because they had offers as well.

Jolley is a hard-working, dedicated coach. He cares about his kids. He puts the time and effort in to try and mold kids into not only outstanding wrestlers, but outstanding individuals.

What else is needed from a coach?

Sometimes I think we get caught up in thinking that the grass is always greener. The problem is that sometimes after we change the gardner, the lawn never quite looks the same again.

And the flowers don't quite bloom as brilliantly as before.

When contacted about the possibility of having his job opened, Jolley refused to comment other than to say he knows it is coming and that he was blindsided by the move.

He also said something that was understandable, yet disappointing: If his job is, indeed, opened, he will not re-apply.

And that is a shame.

Good guys like Jack Jolley don't come along very often.

Ringgold wrestling coach Bob Bove, whose teams have battled with Jolley's Leps over the years, was stunned when told Jolley's post would be opened.

“Jack Jolley is what is good about wrestling,” Bove said. “He cares about his kids. He's a great teacher and more important, he cares about wrestling as a whole. The guy always promotes wrestling and he has no ego at all.

“I'm sure he could say, “Hey, I've done this and I've done that,' but he never will. That's not his style. He will pump up his kids and his sport, but never himself.

“If Belle Vernon gets rid of him, I just think that would be a travesty. I think it sends the wrong message.”

And I concur.

“I think the only way Jack Jolley should leave Belle Vernon is when Jack Jolley decides he is done,” Bove said. “That's how it should be.”

BVA Athletic Director Jesse Cramer said he thinks Jolley does a good job as coach and admitted that the possibility is there that the board may open the position.

I remember years ago when my sons were in school, I once wrote that I could pick the coaches for my kids, I would want them to play football for Jack Scarvel or Gary Dongilli, basketball for Joe Salvino, Phil Pergola or Major Corley and baseball for Kevin Mollis or Bruno Pappasergi.

My sons never wrestled growing up.

But today I have grandsons. And if my grandsons take up wrestling, I would love for them to wrestle for Jack Jolley.

I can't think of any higher personal praise to give to a guy.

I just hope come Tuesday, for the sake of the wrestlers at Belle Vernon Area, that he is still their coach.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or

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