In need of a new girls basketball coach, the Chartiers-Houston School Board turned to a familiar name with impressive bloodlines.
It only made sense to hire Laura Montecalvo this week as the Bucs new coach. Montecalvo comes from a family known for its athletic and coaching ability, none more so than Laura’s father, Guy, who led Washington High School’s football team to a state title in 2001 and, as current athletic director at Canon-McMillan, has presided over state champion programs in wrestling and softball.
The 26-year-old Laura Montecalvo is eager to begin what she hopes will be a long and successful coaching career with the Bucs.
“I definitely wanted to get into coaching,” said Montecalvo, a 2006 graduate of Wash High who earned an undergraduate degree (2010) and masters degree (2012) at California University.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. I was up against some stiff competition for the job.”
Montecalvo will replace Veronica Sansom, who had the Bucs in the WPIAL playoffs four times after taking over the program in 2007. Sansom resigned after last season when her job did not allow her the time to coach the team.
“The one thing that was so impressive about Laura was she came in with a lot of enthusiasm,” said Chartiers-Houston athletic director Kurt Kesneck. “I was the athletic director when we played some big-time games (against Washington). She is such a good athlete. I think what struck everyone was her enthusiasm and competitiveness.”
Montecalvo said she credits her family for her love of sports and desire to get into coaching.
“Her mother (Marie) and I are really proud of her,” said Guy Montecalvo. “Laura grew up with (sports). She understands the intricacies of it, like how to organize a practice.”
Laura Montecalvo earned 12 letters competing in basketball, volleyball and track & field. She was named to the All-Section team three times in basketball and helped the team win four straight section titles and reach the Western finals in her freshman season. As a senior, she was chosen to play in the Roundball Classic.
In track, Laura was a 12-time WPIAL medalist and three-time PIAA medalist. She was part of the Prexies’ WPIAL-champion 1,600-meter relay team.
At Cal, Montecalvo played two basketball seasons under Darcie Vincent before having to give up the sport because of knee injuries. She was a graduate assistant there before taking a position as a volunteer coach at Canon-McMillan. She was an assistant coach at Trinity for the 2012-13 season.
The next logical step was a head coaching position.
“Just going by what I’ve seen of (the Bucs program), I think this team has a lot of young talent mixed in with players who had previous success,” said Montecalvo, who works at Steel City Center Vocational Technical School on Route 51 in Clairton. “This year will tell me a lot.”
Guy Montecalvo said her daughter has gotten an up-close-and-personal look into coaching, and not just on game days but by attending countless practices.
“I knew she had the intangibles,” Guy Montecalvo said. “She’s a technician and understands the impact that fundamentals have. She has the right demeanor. She’s caring and compassionate and has a good knowledge of the sport.”
Chartiers-Houston finished last season with a 12-9 record, including a 5-9 mark in Section 4-AA. The roster had only two seniors – Addy Knetzer and Deja Wormsley.
“It’s hard when you are starting over somewhere, and the kids are used to doing something a certain way” Laura Montecalvo said. “But if they adjust to what I want them to do … I think we’ll be successful. I’m very optimistic.”