New Castle superintendent Sarandrea takes place on WPIAL Board of Directors |
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Chris Harlan
Former New Castle High School boys basketball coach John Sarandrea, pictured in 1998, sends in some instruction from the bench during his team's victory over Shaler.

There was a time when John Sarandrea was a polarizing figure in the WPIAL.

The former New Castle boys basketball coach won four titles and more than 300 games with the Red Hurricanes, but also drew his share of scrutiny from the WPIAL, especially when two star players transferred from Texas in the early 1990s.

But times change, and Sarandrea will have his own seat on the WPIAL Board of Directors starting next month.

“It’s kind of come full circle, hasn’t it?” said Sarandrea, who recently finished his fourth year as New Castle’s superintendent.

Sarandrea retired as New Castle’s coach in 2007 after 15 seasons, but also served the district as an English teacher before joining the school’s administration as a principal. He served as Sharon’s superintendent from 2007-13.

His combination of professional experience and WPIAL knowledge made him an intriguing addition to the WPIAL board, which keeps one seat reserved for a superintendent.

“Obviously, I was here for some transfers and things of that nature, so I have that experience,” he said Monday at the WPIAL office in Green Tree. “I have the experience of coaching, 20 years as an administrator and 10 as a superintendent.

“I think I look at things through a different lens than I did 25 years ago, and that’s a good thing.”

Sarandrea replaces Burrell superintendent Shannon Wagner, whose two-year term on the board expires this month. The seat rotates among the six intermediate units in WPIAL territory.

Wagner represented Westmoreland County administrators. Lawrence and Butler county superintendents voted to nominate Sarandrea.

“I think I bring a lot of different experiences from both the academic and athletic side of things,” he said. “I’m looking forward to learning, and I’m looking forward to participating.”

The WPIAL board also will have a new member representing athletic directors when Baldwin’s Vince Sortino replaces West Allegheny’s Dave McBain on July 1.

Sortino has served as Baldwin’s AD since 2006. He has worked more than 25 years in the district, where he started as a special education teacher. At different times during his tenure, Sortino served as head coach for softball, boys soccer and girls and boys basketball. He also was an assistant football coach.

Sortino is treasurer of the WPIAL athletic directors executive committee and chairman of the WPIAL softball steering committee.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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