D’Angelo winding down AD tenure at Burrell, set to take over at Greensburg Salem

Sunday, February 4, 2024 | 4:01 PM

Drake D’Angelo soon begins service to Greensburg Salem as its next athletic director.

While he is excited for the new opportunity closer to his home and where his eldest daughter, Gianna, is getting more involved in sports within the district, D’Angelo said he will miss all of the people and cherish memories made during his six and a half years with the Burrell athletic program.

“At Burrell, it is such a family atmosphere, and I quickly learned that when I arrived,” said D’Angelo, who lives just a five-minute drive from Greensburg Salem High School. “The community supports its athletes and coaches, and, ultimately, everyone wants to come together to do what’s best for the kids. That is something that I will miss.

“But, at the same time, I want to make the same impact at Greensburg Salem in the community I live in with my family that I hope I made here at Burrell. It’s been such a rewarding time for me here.”

D’Angelo, a 1999 Hempfield graduate who wrestled and played football for the Spartans, spent a couple of seasons on the gridiron at Clarion before earning a sports management degree from Cal (Pa.).

He was hired by Greensburg Salem on Jan. 10, and his final day at Burrell is Feb. 16. He will oversee his final event one night earlier as the Bucs swim teams host Greensburg Salem.

D’Angelo still is working on athletic budget items and managing other things such as scheduling and taking inventory of equipment and uniforms.

Memories flooded back to D’Angelo as he began to pack up some of his personal items in the athletic office, one that is adorned with various team photos and team championship plaques and trophies.

He said he was proud to be a part of a number of things such as having new turf installed at Buccaneer Stadium and, most recently, the establishment of both a Unified Bocce team and a girls wrestling team.

D’Angelo also noted how everyone came together to see the athletic programs through the challenging times in the wake of the covid pandemic.

Brian Ferra, a principal at Stewart Elementary in the Burrell School District, will take over the AD position on an interim basis until the district decides to go ahead with the hiring process for a permanent AD.

Ferra served as the Burrell AD for three years before stepping down in 2014 to spend more time with a growing family. Ferra’s youngest, Niko, wrestled for Burrell and graduated last June.

“Drake did an outstanding job for Burrell,” Ferra said. “His number-one priority was the student-athletes, and every decision he made was in their best interest.”

D’Angelo came to Burrell in July 2017 after five years working as the senior program director at the Greensburg YMCA. Before that, he gained valuable athletic administrative experience as the AD at Littlestown and Fairfield school districts in the eastern side of the state.

Each day he sat in his office at Burrell High School, D’Angelo would look up and see a large canvas photo of members of the 2017 football team and members of the cheerleading squad and band. It would take him back to the first few weeks of his first school year when he was getting up to speed with all things Burrell athletics.

“While I believed in the YMCA’s mission and all that it stands for and still do, I wanted to get back into education and work with scholastic athletics,” D’Angelo said.

“The opportunity came up to come to Burrell, and it was an exciting time. There was so much that needed to get done before the start of the fall (2017) season. I was also planning some things for the winter and spring seasons, too. It was about getting organized with schedules and making sure all the teams had what they needed before hitting the ground running.

“I’ve been lucky to have worked with a very supportive administrative team, buildings and grounds crews, coaches, and definitely all of the athletes who have worked so hard to represent themselves, their family, and their school. I know I am going to have that same support system (at Greensburg Salem).”

The Burrell athletic program is giving D’Angelo some high-level moments in his final days as the athletic director.

On Saturday, the Bucs wrestling team captured its 18th WPIAL title, regaining its crown after a two-year hiatus.

The boys and girls basketball teams are playoff bound, and Bucs swimmers have earned qualifying marks to the WPIAL championships at the end of this month.

D’Angelo said it is a weird feeling to be donning the Greensburg Salem colors full time knowing the rivalry between the Golden Lions and his alma mater.

“But it’s become easier,” he said with a chuckle. “Gianna wrestles at Greensburg Salem, and coaching her while wearing a Greensburg Salem shirt for the first time, it felt awkward as a Hempfield grad. But I’ve gotten to know some of the other athletes and families through the programs she’s participated in. It will be a lot of fun to see these kids grow and develop.”

D’Angelo was the fifth-most tenured athletic director among WPIAL schools in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

Michael O’Brien has been with Fox Chapel since 2006, and Chuck Bellisario came to Deer Lakes in July 2012. Shawn Stivenson returned to Freeport, his alma mater, in the summer of 2015 and John Peterman began his service to Kiski Area three months before D’Angelo arrived at Burrell.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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