It’s ‘go time’ for new Chartiers Valley football coach

Saturday, April 23, 2022 | 9:01 AM

The move earlier this month was no April Fool’s joke.

After five years as head football coach at Chartiers Valley, Dan Knause resigned to take the job as assistant principal and head football coach at Trinity.

“Dan leaving was unexpected,” Chartiers Valley athletic director Mike Gavlik said. “He was moving the program in the right direction. We wish him the best of luck at Trinity.”

Gavlik said the search for a replacement football coach was thorough and efficient with the hope of filling the position before the end of April.

“We had many strong candidates for the position,” Gavlik said. “We allowed the process to play itself out. I knew we had very strong assistant coaches already on staff.”

One of those assistants is now the sideline boss as the school board approved the hiring of Aaron Fitzpatrick as the Colts’ new head coach.

“When I found out that I had been named head coach, all I could think was that it’s go time,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve come a long way, and I want to continue what has been started. It has always been a goal of mine to be head coach for a high school program. Excitement and overjoyed is how I felt the night of the decision.”

The 32-year old Fitzpatrick is an Erie native and McDowell graduate. He matriculated south to Pittsburgh to play college football and run track at Duquesne.

A second grade teacher in the Chartiers Valley school district, Fitzpatrick has been an assistant with the Colts football program since 2013, serving recently as the JV head coach and varsity passing game coordinator who was also in charge of wide receivers and defensive backs.

“I think it is a great advantage to keep it in the family,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know what we have and what we have coming up in the program, and it sure is exciting. Knowing everyone in the program makes it that much easier to transition and build off of. The players know my expectations, and I know that they are determined to meet those expectations.”

Gavlik agrees.

“Aaron brings positive energy and enthusiasm every day,” he said. “He is a great communicator, has a deep understanding of the current team, great football knowledge and knows and is involved in the Chartiers Valley community. I am looking forward to Aaron developing his own staff and placing his own identity on the Chartiers Valley football program for years to come.”

To that point, does the new coach expect to make a lot of changes in the program before the new season kicks off in late August?

“We definitely share the same philosophies,” Fitzpatrick said of Knause. “For example, what I got from Dan, “person-student-player,” is big. The vision is and has always been to prepare our athletes to be contributing citizens in their community. The experiences on the field and adversities encountered are great lessons to teach our athletes as they may face similar adversity in the real world.

“Of course, eventually things will become my own, but for the bigger picture and beyond the game, it’s about molding a better person, forming a better student, which in turn creates a stronger athlete.”

The new coach has hit the ground running, with a lot of things piling up on his early to-do list even though there are four months until Week Zero.

“Start spring conditioning and drills,” Fitzpatrick said. “The transition will be just the same as we have done in years past. This is a good time to review scheme for returning players and introduce schemes for new athletes. Things are already rolling with behind-the-scenes items that are exciting with program as well.”

Chartiers Valley enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, finishing in second place in the Parkway Conference-4A with a final record of 6-2.

Last year, the Colts finished in fifth place and missed the playoffs with a 4-6 mark.

“I want Chartiers Valley to be a well-respected name in that conference,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m confident that it will happen as I believe we have shown our abilities these last two seasons. Long-term goals are simple: Develop a strong sense of pride and a wave of excitement within the community for our program year in and year out. We are on the way. I want to keep those steps moving forward.”


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