BVA's Jolley calls it quits
ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP - For the first time in 13 years, Belle Vernon Area is looking for a new head wrestling coach.
Jack Jolley has resigned as the Leopards mat mentor after 12 years.
"I've had a great career," said Jolley. "There have been so many great kids to work with. The kids are what I will miss most."
Things didn't start out great for Jolley. His squads didn't win a match until his third year as coach. And when they did win that match, he wasn't even there.
"We won at Jeanette in 1993, but I was home sick on the couch," laughed Jolley. "Parents called me on their way home to share the news, but all I wanted to do was sleep!"
During his tenure, Jolley coached 26 WPIAL qualifiers. His first qualifier, Jack Jafrees, didn't advance until 1995. That means that he sent 25 qualifiers in the last seven years.
"Our overall talent got better as the program was built up," said Jolley. "Whoever takes the squad over will have talent to work with."
Jolley also had five wrestlers win section titles. Five doesn't seem like a whole lot, but Jolly feels otherwise.
"When you are in the same section as Connellsville, it is tough to win," said Jolley. "Each of our section champs earned their title."
The five section champs were Steve Slebodnik (140 pounds) and Jeremy Dunlop (135) in 1998, Aaron Horrell (140) in 1999, Aaron Olszewski (112) in 2001 and Jolley's son, John (125), this year.
When asked what his best moments were, Jolley answered quickly.
"The two trips to Hershey were the best," said Jolley of taking wrestlers to the PIAA championships. "Seeing the excitement and talent gathered there was great."
Olszewski (112) finished second in 2001 while John Jolley (125) finished fourth as a sophomore in 2000.
Jolley also praised his two assistant coaches during his tenure, Jeff Spinetti and Charlie Herd. Spinetti was an All-American at West Virginia while Herd received the same honor at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
"They were incredible," said Jolley. "To bring their experience and knowledge to our team was great for the kids. I thank them for their help."
Jolley was also grateful for the support that he got from the Belle Vernon Area administration.
"They were so supportive of our program," said Jolley. "When you have a supportive administration, it makes things a lot easier."
Jolley is now using his time to help John decide where he is going to wrestle at in college. The younger Jolley is being recruited by Buffalo, Clarion, Eastern Michigan, Maryland, and William Penn.
"We are very excited with the process," said Jolley. "This is a very important decision for John that will affect him for the rest of his life."
Jolley said that it will be different next year to not be around the kids.
"To have some of the kids say that I am like another father, that makes it all worth it," said Jolley. "The kids and I went through so much together each year. I am really going to miss them."