Alumnus takes shot at coaching career

Alumnus takes shot at coaching career

Nathan Bottiger, Sports Editor

After being able to only attend matches and tournaments last year,  assistant coach Shane Valko is to now work with Pitt-Johnstown wrestlers team every day now.

After graduating in 2010, Valko worked as a sales representative for Toast Products, a sports medicine company in Pittsburgh.

Valko pitched products and worked with professional sports teams, trainers and players.

He worked with prominent teams like the San Fransisco 49ers, Vancouver Canucks and various major league baseball teams.

Last year, Valko became an assistant coach, but, since he lived in Pittsburgh, could only travel to Johnstown for matches and tournaments.

Valko made his coaching position official when he moved into his sports center office Aug. 1, and moved back home to Salix.

Valko also is a mixed-martial-arts fighter, and plans to take on both jobs, as a fighter and as an assistant coach.

Valko, who is 5-0, is scheduled to fight Jordan Baldwin Oct. 20 at Caged Vengence 12, in Streetsboro, Ohio.

Valko trains in Pittsburgh, Altoona and Johnstown, but said he now has time to work more closely with the team.

Valko said he thinks the wrestlers can relate to him on a different level, because he has been through UPJ’s wrestling system already.

“It takes hard work, but, if you stick to it and listen to (Head Wrestling Coach Pat Pecora), he will make you into a national champion.”

Valko said that because Pitt-Johnstown is a small school, it builds a family like bond amongst wrestlers and coaches. This factored into an easy transition for him from athlete to coach, he said.

Junior Tyler Chesney said the team is glad to have Valko back and to work with him regularly.

“He’s not just a coach that everyone respects, he is also a friend you can count on.“

Valko said he is also looking for students to join a mixed-martial-arts class he created for Pitt-Johnstown students. The class is at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Sports Center.

Valko said he came back because coaching and teaching is what he enjoys.

“I feel like every person has that one dream job that they want to do, and I am fortunate to have found it here at UPJ.”