Tim Sohyda’s tenure as the head coach of Canon-McMillan’s football team officially ended Monday night after three years, two wins and one rather ugly controversy.
The Canon-McMillan School Board accepted Sohyda’s resignation at Monday’s meeting, approving it with a 5-4 vote, but Sohyda didn’t step down because of family reasons or because he got another job.
About two weeks ago, Sohyda said he learned of plans, made by the Canon-McMillan booster club, to find his replacement, essentially ruining the relationship with his players and making it impossible to do his job.
The boosters contend they approached one person about the viability of the head football coach job at Canon-McMillan – and that was because treasurer Bill Graziani felt, for whatever reason, Sohyda might leave or be fired.
Regardless of exactly how it happened, the Big Macs will be looking for a replacement for Sohyda, who had a 2-26 record over the past three years, including a 1-8 mark this past fall.
“Perseverance is about stopping when the job is done, not when you’re discouraged or when things get tough,” Sohyda said. “This totally goes against everything I believe in, but from my perspective, when people that you trust basically destroy your credibility with your team, how do you get the kids to trust you? How do they respect you when that happens?
“The rock’s big enough without people pushing back from the other side. Especially people you trust, people you thought understood and wanted to help you.”
Graziani, who last year was the booster club president, spoke out against school director Joe Zupancic’s claim at the meeting Monday that, “We have certain people in our community that took it upon themselves to recruit a new football coach with no authority.”
Graziani insisted that he and four other members of the boosters talked to one person about whether he would hypothetically take the Canon-Mac job. Graziani says he was not the leader of the group, but declined to name who was.
Graziani also declined to say who the prospective coach was, but he said that he had been a head coach in the WPIAL before. Graziani said he was unsure about this person’s current employment status.
This whole “fact-finding mission,” as Graziani called it, started with separate conversations that Graziani had earlier this season with Sohyda and athletic director Guy Montecalvo. Those talks led Graziani to believe that one or both might leave, or that Sohyda could be fired.
The members of the boosters club in turn peppered the prospective coach they spoke to with questions about whether Canon-McMillan’s facilities were adequate, whether assistant coach pay was high enough and whether the program could win.
“We had an idea to ask questions, to ask coaches, ‘If the Canon-McMillan job were open, knowing our stadium is bad, our salaries are bad, we’ve had losing seasons for 20 years except for when [current athletic director] Guy [Montecalvo] was here, if a position was open, theoretically would you come?’ ”
Graziano maintained that only one coach was approached.
“We only made one call,” Graziano said. “We never had to ask anyone else.”
Sohyda said he learned of the boosters’ maneuvering about two weeks ago and was upset by the developments. A 1992 Canon-McMillan graduate, Sohyda was an All-American honorable mention center at Clarion University before becoming an assistant coach at Canon-McMillan.
Sohyda teaches ninth-grade history at Canon-Mac, which made the decision to resign even more difficult for the Muse native.
“The football thing is kind of up in the air,” Sohyda said. “I haven’t missed a football season since I was in the eighth grade. Some time to gain some perspective on where I am will probably do it some good. I’m not going to jump on the next train that comes by.
“I’m sure that I’ll coach football again. I’m pretty confident there are some people who would be happy to have me. We’ll see.”