Coach of the Year: Olympic Sports honorees

The category of Olympic Sports Coach of the Year is unique in a number of ways.

The coaches honored in this category are not voted in; they win their way into this award. The honorees this year have either won a WPIAL team title or a state team title in their respective sports.

This year’s list includes Teresa Booker of Washington, Brandt Bowman of Peters Township, Larry Fingers of Canon-McMillan, Pat Vereb of Peters Township and Jon Vallina of Burgettstown.

These individuals will be honored at the banquet, which will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Meadow Lands. Tickets for the banquet are $35 each and can be purchased by calling Burgettstown High School athletic director Jon Vallina at 724-947-8109. Proceeds benefit Tri-County Special Olympics. The following is a brief bio of each honoree:

•Teresa Booker


Booker led Washington’s boys track team to one of the more dominating performances in winning the WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament title. How dominating was the performance? Well, the Prexies wrapped up the win by the time the 300 hurdles was held, five events from the end. Washington defeated Quaker Valley by 64 points, Riverside by 88, and Riverview by 76.

•Brandt Bowman

Peters Township tennis

Few have been able to cultivate a team concept on the tennis courts as well as Bowman, and even fewer have matched his success, especially recently with the Peters Township girls tennis team.

The Indians won a second consecutive WPIAL title last fall, their third in the past four years.

Peters Township also had a doubles team win a WPIAL title for the second straight year – Sara Komer and Abby Cummings – and won the PIAA Class AAA championship for the fourth time since 2006.

•Larry Fingers

Canon-McMillan soccer

It was a magical run for the Canon-McMillan boys soccer team as the Big Macs won the school’s first WPIAL championship in the school’s history. The title came in a 1-0 victory over powerful Upper St. Clair in the finals. The Big Macs knocked off rival Peters Township in the semifinals and again in the first round of the state playoffs before falling to Upper St. Clair.

•Jon Vallina

Burgettstown golf

Vallina, who has coached the boys golf team for 28 seasons, guided the Blue Devils to the WPIAL Team Tournament title in Class AA and earned their first trip to the PIAA Team Tournament in the school’s history. Burgettstown won by just four shots over Sewickley Academy.

•Pat Vereb

Peters Township girls soccer

Vereb will deflect nearly all the credit, but there’s no denying that he has molded Peters Township into a dynasty, winning a third consecutive PIAA Class AAA title this past year.

The Indians (24-1) downed Cumberland Valley, 1-0, in Hershey to avenge their only loss all season and help Peters Township become the first girls soccer team since Villa Joseph Marie (2000-02) to three-peat.

Over the past three years, Vereb has guided Peters Township to three state titles, two WPIAL Class AAA championships and a record of 63-7-3.

Peters Township was also recognized as the No. 1 team in the country after the 2012 season by Township was also recognized as the No. 1 team in the country after the 2012 season by

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.


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