Elizabeth Forward grad Luke Padezan takes reins as Gateway’s new baseball coach

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Sunday, February 4, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Luke Padezan is ready to get going as Gateway’s new head baseball coach.

The former standout player at both Elizabeth Forward and Penn State Greater Allegheny was hired by the district Jan. 29, ending a several-months process to find the next man at the top of the Gators program since Mark Wardzinski stepped down after last season.

Padezan comes to Gateway after recently serving as a volunteer assistant at Elizabeth Forward and also the past two and a half seasons as the pitching coach at Central Catholic.

“This is a great opportunity at Gateway,” said Padezan, who cites his coach and later coaching colleague at Elizabeth Forward, Frank Champ; his Greater Allegheny coach, Mark Jackson; and Central Catholic coach John Rende for their mentorship and guidance in him playing the game and later coaching the game.

“I felt it was time for me to take that next step in coaching. Coaching at the other two schools prepared me for this. That is a testament to guys who I have coached with and the players I’ve coached. They’ve each made me a better coach and a better person.”

Padezan said through research and other avenues of gaining knowledge he said he knows he’s coming into a program with a lot of returning talent who can make waves this spring.

Gateway missed the playoffs last year, going 6-13 overall and 3-9 in a rugged Section 1-5A with the likes of co-champions Penn-Trafford and Plum as well as Fox Chapel, Armstrong and Franklin Regional.

“The facility is top notch, one of the best in the WPIAL,” Padezan said.

“It is a 5A school, and a program that has that potential for growth. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

Padezan met with the team for the first time Jan. 31 and outlined what he wanted to see happen over the next month before official preseason practices begin March 4.

“We’re not going to hit the ground running. We’re going to try to hit the ground sprinting,” Padezan said.

“That is kind of the way we’re going to go. The time is going to go fast before the season. I am a system guy, so we’re going to put a system in place of how we play, and I am looking forward to seeing how each player will fit into that. We’re going to cover a lot of that, mentally and physically, in quick fashion over the next month. I have full confidence in the program and the kids to do what needs to be done to be ready.”

The Gateway players kept up to speed with volunteer coach Tom Hussey and others familiar with the program through fall workouts and games and have continued to stay focused with strength and conditioning workouts this winter.

“I am grateful for all of the coaches and other people who took the time to work with the team and kept things going through the process,” Padezan said.

“When it comes down to it, it is all about the kids. I am sure the kids are greatly thankful to have been able to get in that work.”

Senior Noah Colberg, one of several returning Gators starters or top contributors back, said the players are glad to have a new coach in place and are ready to get rolling toward the 2024 season.

“There’s definitely a lot of energy and momentum now,” said Colberg, who batted .296 with 15 RBIs last year.

“It is exciting because we now have a foundation to build from. We got some good work in over the fall which helped a lot. Now, there will be a new system from coach to coach, and we’ll see what happens from there. We have a lot of goals and expectations, and it’s time to get to work to reach them.”

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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