Coaching changes in high school football are part of the sport, but over the last few seasons, it seems like there’s been a lot more turnover than usual.
Channel 11′s Jenna Harner spoke with two new faces at the helm of two big programs in the area to gain more insight.
Ryan Lehmeier and Mike Collodi are just two of 24 new head coaches in the WPIAL this season.
“It means a lot, you know, I’m so appreciative to have the opportunity to be here at Mount Lebanon,” said Collodi, who is coaching at Mount Lebanon.
“Oh, it means the world. I’m humbled to my core to have this opportunity,” Lehmeier said.
Alone, that number may not seem like much, but in the last two years, 60 teams, which accounts for 51% of the WPIAL, have had a head coaching change.
So why all recent the turnover?
“It’s a hard it’s a hard job, you know, and it’s demanding and it takes a lot of time away from your family and I think there’s a lot of sacrifices with that,” Lehmeier explained.
Both coaches stepping into perennial powerhouses in 6A, programs that come with incredibly high expectations.
“Part of the reason this job was so attractive is because the expectations are high. And, you know, I think with high expectations come a little bit of pressure maybe and whatnot. And I think that’s all part of it,” Lehmeier said.
“I love it. You know, I want high expectations, because, you know, I want to be part of a winning program. You know, they were the best team in the state two years ago. And hopefully, we’re gonna keep that tradition going keep piling wins and have another great season here,” said Collodi.
While both Collodi and Lehmeier are ready to write their own chapters in program history, and have both started 2-0, they’re not forgetting the two coaching legends who came before them: Bob Palko and Terry Totten.
Both coaches said their seniors have been so receptive to all the changes, and they’ve been so helpful.
“For the last dozen years, I would meet with Coach Palko you know, even before I became a head coach, because I always respected the heck out of him and I just wanted to pick his brain in the offseason and learn from one of the best there is,” said Collodi.
“There’s not a better resource for me than someone that, you know, stood in my shoes for the last 18 years. I’m really fortunate that Terry has been supportive and kind of along on the ride with us,” said Lehmeier.
They both said they couldn’t ask for anything more -- and the kids have just welcomed them in with open arms.
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