Gorman: Wade’s win a WPIAL first
That an historic moment in Western Pennsylvania prep history was but a footnote at the WPIAL football finals shouldn’t be seen as a slight.
When Wayne Wade led Clairton to the WPIAL Class A title Friday, he was believed to have become the first African-American coach to win a WPIAL football championship.
Problem was, no one was certain if another black coach had accomplished the feat.
The league, which doesn’t keep records, is celebrating 100 years of crowning football champions. There is no recollection of a black coach winning a title since the WPIAL playoffs started in 1971, and it appears unlikely a black coach would have won one before then.
In the past 15 years, three black coaches have had teams lose in the WPIAL finals: Keith Humphries (Beaver Falls, 2001), Terry Smith (Gateway, ’04, ’07-09) and Roy Hall (Jeannette, ’11).
Wade was aware of the possibility of his first prior to the Bears’ 46-14 win over Avonworth.
“For African-Americans, anytime you’re the first doing something it’s an accomplishment,” Wade said. “It says that, as a people, we’re going in the right direction, that things have changed. I’m definitely honored to be the first.”
Wade, 42, already was the first black coach in Clairton history, but he was fired after a 4-5 season in 2001. It was gratifying for Wade to win the WPIAL in the first year of his second stint at his alma mater, and he wants to wear the title with honor.
“It’s not added pressure,” Wade said, “but I have to be more cognizant of what I am doing and how I’m influencing people.”
Wade hopes to make more history. He has no plans for this first to be his last at Clairton.