A new football coach took over at Valley for the third time in three years after the New Kensington-Arnold School Board approved Chad Walsh by a 5-2 vote Thursday night.
Walsh, 42, of New Kensington, replaced Mark Kaczanowicz, who teaches physical education in the district and also serves as part-time athletic director.
Walsh has served as an assistant at Highlands, West Shamokin, Valley and Kiski Area. He spent four seasons at Valley and left after 2010, which was Troy Hill’s last year as coach.
Kaczanowicz, who re-applied for the coaching position, plans to remain as teacher and AD but declined further comment. He was contacted by phone while attending an AD convention in Hershey on Thursday night.
When Walsh was asked if working with Kaczanowicz could become uncomfortable, he said, “I hope not. Mark is a pretty good guy. I hope to have a good, professional relationship. I think things will run smoothly.”
Walsh received a one-year contract for $6,500. All Valley coaches work under one-year deals.
Board members Marilyn Claassen, Jason Fularz, Liney Glenn, Deb Glushenko and Regina Namey voted in favor of the hiring. Pat Petit and George Zavadak opposed, and Eric Doutt and board president Bob Pallone were absent.
Fularz, the board’s vice president, said Walsh’s experience as an assistant at Valley and other schools made him an attractive candidate.
Zavadak said he opposed the move because he favored another candidate — Ron Balla Jr. Zavadak, a 2007 Valley graduate, played when Hill was coach and Balla an assistant. He believed Balla would be more familiar with the district’s program.
“(Walsh) didn’t have the same knowledge,” Zavadak said. “But I think Chad’s very qualified for the position.”
Walsh served as Valley’s offensive coordinator in 2010.
A 1987 Highlands graduate, he also has been an assistant for the Highlands track and field program for more than two decades. He works full-time as a sales representative.
Valley is riding a school-record 22-game losing streak, including a 0-8 record under Kaczanowicz last season. The Vikings didn’t play the usual minimum of nine games because their game at Hollidaysburg was cancelled due to lightning.
This fall, Valley will drop to Class AA after two winless seasons in Class AAA.
“I want to get things going in the right direction at Valley,” Walsh said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us. There are a lot of quality teams (in Class AA). It’s not really any easier. But we’ve got to get that first win.”
Walsh plans to meet with prospective players as soon as possible and get a handle on the offseason conditioning program. Building confidence is a priority, according to Walsh.
“We need to get into a positive attitude and change the way the kids are thinking,” he said.