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School Board Hires Kovach as Boys' Varsity Basketball Coach

By Richard Finch Jr.
The Tube City Almanac
August 19, 2018
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Ending weeks of rumors and speculation, McKeesport firefighter Kevin Kovach has been named the coach of the boys' varsity basketball team at McKeesport Area High School.

The appointment of Kovach, 39, came at Wednesday's school board meeting by a 7-1-1 vote.

“I had some sweaty-palm moments,” Kovach said after the meeting. “I didn’t know anything coming into the meeting today. I don’t know what happened behind closed doors.”
Board member Ivan Hampton voted against hiring Kovach, with Steve Kondrosky abstaining. Kovach will be paid an annual salary of $7,100 for the 2018-19 school year, replacing Gerald "Puddin" Grayson, who retired in June.

Questions were raised during the hiring process about whether the school board had considered a diverse group of candidates.

After Wednesday's meeting, Brenda Sawyer, president of the McKeesport NAACP, said she wished Kovach and the players “nothing but success,” but repeated the group's position that other candidates should have been considered.

“Two qualified candidates, Will Gadson and Troy Blackwell, were overlooked, and the job was given to an unqualified candidate,” Sawyer said. “Kovach does not have the requisite high school or college basketball coaching background.”

Hampton said he voted against Kovach because he felt Blackwell had more experience. “I think (Blackwell) would have been good for the program,” he said.

Still, after the meeting, Hampton told the new coach: “It was nothing against you, buddy.” 

Blackwell has coached football as well as girls' basketball, and was an assistant boys' varsity coach under Grayson.

Kovach, reached after the meeting, said he's known Blackwell for years and called him “a positive influence in the community.”

He also acknowledged his own lack of varsity coaching experience, but noted that he has coached at other levels for 13 seasons.

His goal, Kovach said, is to see all student-athletes succeed. “If I get a couple of Division I basketball players out of it, I’ll pack up a car and go watch their games," he said.

But he'll also be satisfied when students graduate and move onto successful careers, said Kovach, who is vowing to do anything he can for his players.

“I’m all about the community, I’m all about the school and I’m all about the work --- my priority is to make them successful in life,” he said. “I don’t mean to use the word ‘work’, because it’s not work, it’s a labor of love.”

Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer who is covering McKeesport Area schools and North Versailles Twp. for Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at finchr43@gmail.com.

Originally published August 19, 2018.

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