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Basketball

McConnell reaches coaching milestone with Chartiers Valley

| Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Tim McConnell, being hugged by son Matty, watches the closing moments of Chartiers Valley's 86-55 win over Peters Township on Friday, Jan, 30, 2015, at Chartiers Valley High School. The win was the 500th for McConnell.
Randy Jarosz | for Trib Total Media
Tim McConnell, being hugged by son Matty, watches the closing moments of Chartiers Valley's 86-55 win over Peters Township on Friday, Jan, 30, 2015, at Chartiers Valley High School. The win was the 500th for McConnell.
A Tim McConnell mask is left in the Chartiers Valley student section after the Colts' 86-55 win over Peters Township.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
A Tim McConnell mask is left in the Chartiers Valley student section after the Colts' 86-55 win over Peters Township.

Walk into the gymnasium at Chartiers Valley and the impact Tim McConnell has had on the boys basketball team is on display.

Banners hang high from the walls showcasing the milestones of the Colts – 15 section titles, five WPIAL titles and two state runner up finishes.

Last week McConnell added another chapter to his legacy when the Colts defeated Peters Township, 86-55, for his 500th career win.

“I didn't get into coaching to win a certain amount of games,” McConnell said. “That was never a goal of mine. I just wanted to be the best prepared and have my team go out and try to win every game. The players have been tremendous over these 22 years. It makes you realize what a great ride it has been.”

Less than 20 coaches have reached the 500-win milestone in WPIAL history, with only six active coaches: Ambridge's Mark Jula, Ringgold's Phil Pergola, Moneseen's Joe Salvino, Central Catholic's Chuck Crummie, Washington's Ron Faust and Sewickley Academy's Win Palmer.

McConnell getting there in 22 years was the fastest in WPIAL history.

“I didn't think about it until I saw the list and saw the elite club I would be involved with,” McConnell said. “It made me take a step back and think.”

Before his arrival at Charters Valley, the boys basketball program had limited success. The Colts had won only won three section titles - in 1975, 1976 and 1979 - before his start.

The year before he was hired, Charters Valley went 5-17. In McConnell's first season in 1993-94, the team went 17-8 and reached the WPIAL playoffs, a luxury that has now become a yearly occurrence for the Colts.

McConnell's five WPIAL titles include two in Class AAAA (2001, 2004) and three in Class AAA (1997, 1998, 2010).

His career winning percentage is at 81 percent.

While some coaches make a career of bouncing from team to team, McConnell has never strayed away from Charters Valley. The opportunity the district gave him early in his career has kept him committed to the program.

“This is a great administration that believes in what I am doing,” McConnell said. “They are good to me. They went out on a limb and gave me a job 17 years when I first was coaching here. I was bouncing between jobs and they liked how stable I was with coaching. They liked how I handled the players and the discipline I was showing.”

After playing his high school ball at Seton-La Salle, McConnell attended Geneva College and played two years before transferring to Waynesburg. After graduating, he served one season as a graduate assistant at Canisius College before returning to Waynesburg and serving as an assistant to Marisa.

During his time at Charters Valley, McConnell has been able to coach both of his sons. T.J., now the starting point guard at Arizona, won 94 games in his four seasons with the Colts. Current senior Matty, a Robert Morris recruit, has won 84.

“When I got the job, I didn't know if my kids would be good or not,” McConnell said. “I didn't get into coaching to coach my sons. It just happened they came to the gym with me every day. I think Matty has taken more shots in Charters Valley's gym than any other player.

“I have been blessed to have those two be part of this.”

After the win over the Peters Township, McConnell spoke to the packed Charters Valley gym and thanked the community for its support.

During his speech, he credited the coaches who had the greatest influence on his career: his grade school coach Dan Kail at Our Lady of Loretto, his high school coach Joe D'Abruzzo at Seton-La Salle and his college coach Rudy Marisa at Waynesburg.

He also credited his brother Tom, the current coach of the women's team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“He was so instrumental in me becoming a coach,” McConnell said. “I remember when we drove to Kansas and our car broke down on our way there. We got there and met Roy Williams and watched practice. That's when I knew I wanted to coach.”

McConnell said the center of his success has been based on discipline. He reflected on Marisa, the longtime Waynesburg University coach he played for, and how he dismissed players who put themselves ahead of the team.

“You have to understand no one person is bigger than the program,” McConnell said. “I have built myself on that.”

With 22 years and 500 wins under his belt, some might wonder how much more McConnell has in him. The rest of the coaches in the WPIAL should be put on notice – he has no plans of going anywhere soon.

“I feel good,” McConnell said. “I feel like I am 25 and not 50. As long as I feel good and energy, I plan to be coaching.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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