In this feature titled “Coach’s Corner”, I will be interviewing a different coach every week and asking them questions about their personal life and about coaching. Hopefully their answers will not only shed some light on how they coach their respective teams, but also allow readers to get to know the men behind the fields/courts.
This week features head baseball coach Steve Bucci of the South Park Eagles. Coach Bucci also had coaching stints of 3 years at Canon-Mac and one year at Bethel Park. In 2008, he led the Big Macs to a 4A state title, and after losing in the WPIAL title game in 2002 with South Park, he finally captured WPIAL gold with the Eagles in 2013. Let’s take a look inside Coach Bucci’s corner:
1. What are some of your pet peeves?
Some of my pet peeves are messy rooms, also not being on time.
2. What is your favorite TV show?
My favorite show is blue bloods with Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg.
3. Who do you look up to the most?
I always looked up to my father he always showed me to work hard for something. He is deceased now but was so supportive whatever I did.
4. Who was your favorite sports player growing up and why?
Len Dykstra of the Mets was my hero. I loved how hard he played and made the most of his size.
5. What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote ” Success is no accident, it is hard work, perseverance,
learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love what you are doing or learning to do”. (Pele)
6. Describe your dream vacation.
My dream vacation is somewhere with my wife and 3 kids and hopefully somewhere we can catch some baseball as well!
7. What is the most important thing you try to preach to your players every year?
What I preach to my teams is simple: Do you want to be ordinary or extraordinary it’s up to you!!
8. After coaching South Park from 2000-2006, what made you return as coach in 2010?
I actually came back to south park in 2011, I coached at bethel park in 2010 and my asst. coach actually put a grievance in to the union about not being hired as the head coach. The school district was 100% behind me in fighting to retain me. I talked with the superintendent at that time Tom knight, He wanted me to stay but the south park job reopened and I was a resident in the community and wanted to get the program back to respectability again. They hadn’t made the post season since I left in 2006.
9. What is your proudest moment as a high school baseball coach?
My best moment in high school baseball was the 2008 state championship team at canon-mac. It was the school’s first title in baseball and probably the most unlikely team to win the 4a state title. To this date we still haven’t had a WPIAL team to win one since. Plum was there last year but lost to Boyerstown.
Also, the 2013 South Park team to go 24-0 in the WPIAL and 7th team to go undefeated in the history of WPIAL. We didn’t win the state but 25-1 was an awesome season!!!
10. In between coaching at South Park, you led Canon-Mac to a AAAA State title in 2008. Describe that experience.
The experience of the state championship was awesome. We had a huge crowd, our kids were so ready and Altoona was such a great site for that game. For me it was the greatest week in my life. I gave birth twice: first that Friday June 13th I won my first state title and June 17th, I gave birth to my first son.
11. What was your most embarrassing moment as a high school baseball coach?
My most embarrassing moment in HS baseball was 2002 PNC park, we just took the field for infield outfield pre-game. I hit my first ball to left field and after I swung, the bat flew over the shortstop’s head. I hurried and grabbed the bat and my next swing to left I put it off the left field wall. So I was pretty hyped up.
12. In 2002, you led the Eagles to the WPIAL Finals, coming up short against Washington. How much did you learn from that experience?
I realized don’t over think and do what you did all year, don’t change the game plan because of your opponent and just relax and enjoy the moments.
13. How did you decide you wanted to coach baseball?
I started to think about coaching my senior year in college at Davis & Elkins college. I really enjoyed the drills in the off seasons and the preparation that leads up to your season. I coached at Williamsport, PA for my internship and really enjoyed working the camps and working with the youngsters. I knew I had to do it!!!
14. In your second stint as the Eagles head coach, you led them to a victorious WPIAL title run in 2013, defeating Hopewell 4-3 in a 9-inning thriller. How nerve-wracking was that game for you?
The WPIAL 2013 game against Hopewell was a classic. I don’t remember the whole game because it was tense the whole time. I must have sweat off 10 pounds that game. The first 3 rounds we didn’t give up a run and Hopewell scored a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first!
15. How important has your family been throughout your coaching career?
Family is everything. I have a great baseball family; my wife is awesome with me not always being around. My kids come to all of the home games and the south park parents are so good to my whole family. My wife knows especially March-June I’m a busy person and if we don’t go far in the playoffs I still find my way to other playoff games and state playoff games. My friend and I every year head to the state title game, it’s a tradition we have. We talk about the old times and have a great day!!