Joe Salvino leaves Monessen to become new Belle Vernon basketball coach

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 9:57 PM


At first he wasn't sure, then he changed his mind. Now the face of Monessen boys basketball has a new home.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Belle Vernon Area school board hired Joe Salvino to guide its boys basketball program.

Salvino led the Monessen program for more than three decades. His teams won two PIAA championships, six WPIAL championships and 21 section titles.

“I just think it's a challenge that I needed at this point in my career,” Salvino said. “Being somewhere 34 years, the program is established and I've done everything you can probably do there. I think I needed a change and to challenge myself.”

Salvino replaces Kyle DeGregorio, who left to coach the girls basketball team at Baldwin, where he's a guidance counselor.

When the job came open, Salvino said he talked to Belle Vernon athletic director Matt Humbert and said he wasn't interested.

“I was in that position before,” Salvino said of his prior application to coach at BVA. “I asked if I could have some time to think about it. After a week, I said I wasn't going to go for it and finish my career at Monessen.

“He asked if maybe I could suggest someone to him or give him information on some guys. He called me back and asked me about a coach. Then I thought, here's a man trusting me to help him find a coach. That meant a lot and then I asked him how I go about reapplying.”

Salvino's resumé spoke for itself, Humbert said.

“I thought we had a lot of good applicants,” Humbert said. “At the end of the day, two state championships and six WPIAL titles, those aren't easy tasks at any level or school.”

Salvino, who began at Monessen in 1984, has an overall record of 639-256.

“I think our program provides him with nice incentives,” Humbert said. “He's a local guy, he's privy to the program and he undoubtedly knows some of our kids. I think it will make for a smooth transition.

“He's a Valley guy but an outsider to the program. The nicest thing for us is that we even piqued his interest. When you look at the applicants and who's out there, this is the top guy.”

Salvino takes over a team that will have no seniors on the roster next year. It's a young but talented, team. Word of Salvino's hiring spread quickly on social media with the Belle Vernon faithful showing its enthusiasm.

The coach said he'll meet with the Greyhounds to inform them of the change.

“I'm leaving some kids I've been with for a while. That's hard to do,” Salvino said. “Monessen will always be in my heart. I live there, I graduated from there and coached there for 34 years. It's always going to be a part of me.”

Monessen athletic director Gina Naccarato said she knew losing the longtime coach was a possibility.

“I talked to him about it, so it isn't a surprise,” Naccarato said. “It's just hard to see him go, especially when all that I have known about Monessen basketball is with Joe on the sideline.

“He has taught me a lot as a player, coach and now as AD. He's one of the easiest people to have work for you. Even though it will be difficult not to see him on the Greyhounds sideline, I wish him all the best.”

Jeremy Sellew is a sports editor for the Mon Valley Independent.

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