S. Valley players want Steele as new coach when Braszo leaves
Steel Valley High School football players are stumping for Central Catholic junior varsity head coach Rodney Steele to replace Steel Valley varsity coach Ray Braszo, even though Braszo has not officially left the district.
Braszo, who previously coached for the West Mifflin Area Titans for 17 seasons, reportedly is departing Steel Valley for a return to West Mifflin.
Steel Valley Superintendent Dr. William Kinavey confirmed he spoke to Braszo Monday morning about the departure, and noted Braszo has yet to submit a letter of resignation.
West Mifflin Area School District officials are expected to vote on hiring Braszo at Thursday night's meeting, and Braszo should submit a letter to Steel Valley on Friday.
Players Delrece Williams, Jared Juristy and Nolan McGuire are heading into their senior season in the 2010-11 school year. They, along with several other players, stopped by school directors' Tuesday night workshop meeting to voice their opinion about who their next coach should be.
"(Braszo) told us today that it's more than likely he's going to go," Williams told district officials. "There's a meeting this Thursday that he'll be sworn in as a teacher and Monday as a coach, and I understand that the position will be open for coaching. We know Rodney Steele, and Mr. Steele will be applying for the job.
"We would like him to be the coach because we played with him when we were younger and he's coming from a good program, Central Catholic, and he knows how to win, and he knows our personalities. As seniors going into our senior season, we don't want a new coach that (doesn't) know us and know our personalities and how we are. I think he would be a good pick for this job."
"We understand the job's not open right now," Juristy said. "Once it gets opened, we don't want just anybody to get hired. Next year could be a really good year for us. We just want to give you guys what we think before you vote on anyone else."
Braszo's career coaching record is 126-90-3. He led Steel Valley to the 2007 Century Conference championship and compiled a 26-14 record in four years with the Ironmen.
At West Mifflin, Braszo was 100-76-3 and led the Titans to the Big Seven Conference championship in 2005.
Steele coached the Steel Valley players in a midget league, and lives in West Homestead with his wife Coyleene and their sons Rodney III, Vincenzo and Rico.
Kinavey said once Braszo submits a letter of resignation, he will forward it to board members and the coaching position will be posted for two weeks within the district before being opened to other potential candidates.
"It is a lengthy process," Kinavey told the players. "It will take time, but we're looking to bring the best person for the kids of the school. We'll take into consideration what you said."
Steele does not work for Steel Valley, so the earliest he could be considered for the position would be March 5 if Braszo submits a letter of resignation on Friday.
The co-curricular leadership committee, School Directors Mike Terrick, Thomas Olson and Vice President Kim Kubancsek, will interview candidates and bring recommendations to the board as part of the hiring process, President Beth Cannon said.
The players shared their thoughts outside the workshop meeting about Braszo leaving.
"I think it will affect us a lot because we've been with him since our freshman year," Williams said. "We really became connected with coach (Braszo). We had a really good connection with him, and he helped us out a lot."
"A good coach goes a long way," McGuire said.
"It just doesn't seem real that he's leaving because he's been here for so long," Juristy said. "We just want someone we're comfortable with for next year, someone who will listen to us. So that's why we're here, so we didn't get some random guy."
"I think he's really going to be hard to replace," Williams added. "He's such a good guy, down to earth. A person we can really go to with our problems and anything. That's what we're really here to look for in a coach. A person like coach (Braszo). Someone that we can go to even out of football."
The players said they plan to attend Steel Valley's regular board meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the high school, and could bring more support for Steele.
Until a new coach is selected, the players have taken it upon themselves to continue to train and prepare for next season.
"It's up to the school district's hands (to pick a new coach)," Williams said. "All we can do is get ready for the football season, and if we have a new coach, we have to respect that coach, and I'll have the same attitude to come out and win."
Staff writer Josh Yohe contributed to this story.