Clairton promotes defensive coordinator to head football coach
It didn’t take long for the Clairton Bears to find a replacement for Tom Nola, and they didn’t have to look very far to find him.
Clairton hired defensive coordinator Wayne Wade on Wednesday with a unanimous 7-0 vote a week after Nola left to take the vacant coaching job at Gateway.
Clairton did not open the job publicly and interviewed only Wade.
“It now puts my name on the program even though it is not about me. It is about the kids at Clairton, and that’s why I am doing it,” Wade said. “Coaching is a passion of mine.
“To be able to go back as the head coach at my alma mater is something I felt strong about (in 2001), and I still feel strong about it now.”
It won’t be Wade’s first stint as Clairton’s coach. Wade was an August hire at Clairton in 2001 replacing Joe Fischer, who went to Monessen the month prior. Wade led the Bears to a 4-5 record and was let go at the end of the season.
Clairton hired Nola, and the Bears almost instantly turned into a Class A power. They won 141 games, six WPIAL titles, four straight PIAA championships and a Pennsylvania-record 66 consecutive games from 2009-13 that brought the program national attention.
“That first situation was tough,” Wade said. “You have to understand the dynamics of getting that job a couple weeks before the season and trying to put a coaching staff together. Then we had kids who never played in midget league football. That group of kids never played before, which is very tough.”
Wade stayed out of coaching on the high-school level until 2008 when he joined Clairton’s staff as a volunteer assistant. A year later, Nola brought him on full time before promoting him to defensive coordinator in 2010.
“When I came back, I went in with that attitude,” Wade said. “That is not going to change. Expectations aren’t going to change. The kids know me, and they know what I expect from them. I am just looking forward to it.”
Wade, 41, is a 1990 Clairton graduate who quarterbacked the Bears to a WPIAL Class A title in 1989. He played collegiately at Akron then played for Milwaukee of the Arena Football League from 1995-2000 before returning to Clairton for that one difficult season as coach.
“I don’t think I need to prove anybody wrong,” Wade said. “I have been around the program helping the kids and being their rock and helping them do things and I am going to continue to do that. I don’t need to prove myself to anybody.”
Also Wednesday, Clairton hired Jonathan Marshall as girls basketball coach. Marshall is a 1971 Clairton graduate who played college basketball at Robert Morris and Penn State.