Franklin Regional football program, WCCA mourn loss of Larry Sellitto
Thursday, January 7, 2021 | 4:00 PM
Every head football coach has a right-hand man.
For longtime Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta, it was Larry Sellitto.
“He was my best friend,” Botta said. “He was there during good times and bad. One of the most supportive people I have ever met. He was loved by so many people. I will miss him like a brother.”
Sellitto, the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator at Franklin Regional and president of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association, died unexpectedly at his home on Christmas Day. He was 65.
The news did more than disrupt a holiday for family and friends. It shocked them. Shook them.
“Larry loved football,” said Botta, who coached with Sellitto for 19 years. “He always rearranged his work schedule to be there. He told me on the field was where he let the world’s problems escape.”
Sellitto helped Botta with preparations for games and practices, often going above his duties by helping with bus schedules, video equipment, eligibility lists, letterwinners, stats and more.
“He loved his special teams,” Botta said. “That was his baby. He took pride in it.”
Sellitto ran the WCCA since 2013, helping to turn a sinking organization into a thriving staple in the county sports universe. He helped the association’s wrestling tournament grow into a premier event and nurtured successful events in track and field, swimming, cross country, golf and basketball.
“I am devastated,” WCCA member and Derry girls basketball coach Gene Brisbane said. “Larry had a total commitment to the student-athletes and coaches of Westmoreland County. He was passionate about our organization, and he took us to another level. He was responsible for increasing the number of scholarships given, the number of events that we sponsor and the total memberships of the WCCA. He made sure we did things the right way and handled everything with a lot of class.”
Brisbane said Andy Wnek, the WCCA vice president, will replace Sellitto as president.
Former players recognized Sellitto’s pivotal role at Franklin Regional, a perennial WPIAL contender known for its toughness and bravado, traits of a coaching staff that also emphasized respect for opponents.
“Coach Sellitto was a great coach who always cared about every athlete in Westmoreland County,” said former Panthers lineman Eric Festa. “He showed up every day with a smile on his face and made sure we were all taken care of. The happiness he brought to the field was infectious, and overall, he was a just a great man.”
Another former Franklin Regional standout, Nate Leopold, said Sellitto was known for giving motivational speeches before games.
“My senior year before the Armstrong game, we were doing our (special teams) meeting. He said, ‘We were in the driver’s seat, but now we’re in the console.’ We were all like, what? We had no idea what that meant. But we loved it. We went crazy. We ended up winning that game in overtime, and I just remember everyone saying to him after the game, ‘Coach, we’re in the console.’ It became one of our slogans all year.”
Sellitto, a Jeannette grad who also coached football at Penn-Trafford and Geibel, was a licensed psychologist who had a private practice in Monroeville.
Andrew Brncic said Sellitto gave him a chance to prove his worth on the field.
“He believed in his players and always found a way to bring out the best in each of us,” Brncic said. “He coached myself and both of my brothers for years, and we will all tell you the same thing.”
Sellitto took care of his late mother, Colomba “Bina” Sellitto, who died a month ago, until the pandemic ultimately separated them.
The loss of both of them in just over a month’s time — she died in November at age 97 — makes their story that much more heartbreaking.
“He was always there for her but could not be in the same room since March,” Botta said. “Sad.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Franklin Regional
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