SPRINGDALE (KDKA) — Chuck Wagner’s high school coaching career began at Oakmont High in 1961.
In 1992, he came out of retirement to take on a Springdale team that had lost 35 games in a row.
He turned that team around. The Dynamos have now made the playoffs10 straight years – winning the WPIAL championship in 2003.
Approaching 77 years of age, he has finally called it quits last week.
However: “I’m going to maintain the office here, and be here indefinitely.”
It’s a promise he makes to high school junior Sean Dugan and senior Chris Liberto. It’s a promise he has made to his players for 50 years.
“Regardless of whether they want to go on to school with just academics,” he explains, “or go on to a school academically and football-wise, or go get a job, I try to help them any way I can. And it doesn’t end there.”
His loyalty to his players is reciprocated.
“He’s like a father figure to me,” Sean Dugan says. “I look up to him. If he wasn’t there, I don’t know where I’d be.”
Chris Liberto agrees. “He always says ‘Hang in there tough,’ and that rubs on us. And that’s what we say to a lot of people. Hang in there tough, you know.”
That’s easier said than done, when time came to tell his team goodbye.
“With the help of the players I did get my poise back,” the coach says. “And we moved on with the meeting. But yes, it was extremely difficult.”
“Thank yous” add up in a 50-year career. But for Coach Wagner, one person stands out.
“That is my wife, Dee. And I thank (her) very much.”