Baldwin’s Cherico gains perspective, makes plans in 1st year as AD

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Saturday, June 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Anthony Cherico was appointed this spring as athletic director in the Baldwin-Whitehall school district.

The board of directors voted to appoint Cherico to the fulltime position in late March.

He previously served as Baldwin’s interim AD throughout the 2021-22 school year.

Cherico, 46, was a coach and teacher in the district for 23 years, including 14 years as a special education teacher and nine years as an eighth-grade math teacher.

He taught at Harrison Middle School throughout his career in the classroom and also has experience with youth programs in the area.

Cherico has two sons, Baldwin senior A.J. (Anthony) and Caden, who will be a sophomore in 2022-23. Both compete in basketball and track and field.

Baldwin’s new AD was a three-sport athlete in high school and has devoted his life to an active coaching role since his college undergraduate days.

Cherico has served as head coach of the boys basketball teams at South Park and Keystone Oaks, assistant basketball coach at Baldwin and middle school boys basketball coach and middle school girls basketball coach in the Baldwin-Whitehall school district.

“I also coached basketball as an undergrad at Clarion University, Clarion High School and Burgettstown,” Cherico said.

“I coached football at Clarion High School, South Park High School and Harrison Middle School for many years.”

Cherico has been tying up loose ends as the 2021-22 school year has drawn to a close and has been extra operational in his office preparing for the fall season at Baldwin.

He recently took a break to participate in a Q-and-A session.

What are your general duties as athletic director?

My duties include scheduling games, officials, buses, event workers, field permits, budgets, working with and evaluating coaches, working with the athletic trainers, building community relations through the youth organizations, working with principals and teachers to support student-athletes, working with the WPIAL and PIAA and more.

What has been your first order of business as AD?

The first thing I felt I needed to do was touch base with all the coaches and get an understanding of their needs and goals and what they needed from me to support them. I’ve also met with some of our youth organization leaders to see how we can work together to create a program from the younger athletes all the way up to the high school programs. I am no longer teaching. That was a big adjustment. I have a lot of fun in my classes with the kids.

What are some of the challenges that awaited you when you were hired?

I think losing athletes to local private schools and the lack of numbers in some of the programs. We need to keep our athletes in our school, and we need to find a way to increase participation in all of our sports. I feel all athletes should be involved in multiple sports, and I have made that message known to all of the coaches. We have to share athletes and encourage them to play as much as they can during their time in the high school. Focusing on one sport should not be the norm. Playing multiple sports is something I hope we see more of in the future.

What are some of your goals?

One of my main goals is to bridge the gap between youth organizations, middle school and varsity athletics. We need a more unified approach to our athletics from the varsity level all the way down. Opening lines of communication between all groups is a priority and is already taking place. My goal is to increase participation in all sports. This starts with working with the youth groups, middle school and high school as one program. Communication from the head coaches down to our youngest athletes is the key. Supporting the youth organizations is something that is a huge goal of mine.

Anything new on the horizon for athletics in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District?

We are evaluating every aspect of the program. I think you will see some changes over the next few years. The process is not anything that can happen overnight. We have so many great things in place for our athletic program. We just need to make sure we are continuing to progress.

What has been your greatest learning experience in your first year on the job?

Seeing what all goes on behind the scenes of a sporting event. There are so many moving pieces for all events. Everyone sees the final product (the game), but there is a lot that goes into each game.

What have you enjoyed most so far working as Baldwin’s athletic director?

Working with so many people in the district that I have not had the chance to get to know. The maintenance and custodial crews are amazing. They do so much work around here so the kids can have great facilities. Everyone from the business department, to facilities, to the principals and secretarial staff have all been so helpful and welcoming to me in the new role. I also have enjoyed getting to know so many athletes from all of the different teams. Being at games and practices and seeing all the hard work, preparation and commitment has all been amazing to watch. I have really enjoyed getting to know the coaches and to see their approaches to their respective teams. We are lucky to have coaches in the district that are truly here for the kids.

What are some of the things that you have least enjoyed?

Rain and bad weather. This spring was tough with all of the rain we had. We had to move around so many games. It makes for very busy days when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Do you have an assistant AD?

Not currently, but I have some people that have been very helpful to me and are willing to help however they can. Everyone from administrators, maintenance/custodial staff, my secretary, game day workers, coaches, athletic trainers and the transportation department have all been extremely supportive. I’d hate to name names and leave someone out by accident. I’m so thankful to so many people during this transition.

What are some of the highlights from your coaching career?

There are so many highlights, but my favorite years are the ones I coached my own children at Harrison. Even having them there with me as ball boys has been a highlight. It is also a great feeling when former players approach me when I am out in the community and we talk about their teams and experiences. That is what makes coaching so great, the lifelong memories and relationships.

When did you graduate from Clarion? And did you play any sports in college?

I graduated in 1998. I was a special education major at Clarion. I went there to play quarterback. However, I didn’t play long as I moved into coaching as a freshman in college.

What are your thoughts or comments on your son A.J.’s athletic abilities?

A.J. is a tremendous athlete and a very hard worker. He is willing to be coached, work to improve, and he understands his strengths and weaknesses. He has been this way since he was a little kid. He is a smart basketball player, and he will always put his team ahead of himself. He had a great track year with the triple jump. I think he will have an amazing senior year. Both of my sons can play a lot of different positions on the basketball court. Caden is very competitive. He’s had an amazing AAU season.

Where did you grow up?

I graduated from West Allegheny High School. I played football, basketball and baseball.

Any summer vacations planned?

I think we will take a few long weekend trips this year.

We will find something to do that is relaxing to recharge the batteries for the coming school year.

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