Like father, like son: Loughran family celebrates 2 generations of WPIAL champion coaches
By: Don Rebel
Sunday, June 16, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Many fathers will receive gifts on their day ranging from power ties to power tools.
In the Loughran household, a #1 Dad T-shirt would be appropriate for father or son.
Last month, Patrick Loughran, the younger of two sons of Tom and Dink, guided Steel Valley to a WPIAL Class 3A baseball championship in his first year as Ironmen head coach.
That title put Patrick and his dad in a very rare group of fathers and sons who won WPIAL championships as a head coach. They join the likes of the Walkers in football, the Nessers in basketball, the Bascianos in baseball and the Dondes in wrestling.
Father Tom is a few months away from starting his fifth season as coach at Fox Chapel. Before that, he spent 32 years as coach at South Park. He guided the Eagles to WPIAL football championships in 1997 and 2005.
“In 1997, I was in my freshman year at Thomas Jefferson,” Patrick Loughran said. “From the time I was six up through eighth grade, I was on the sideline with my dad as the ball boy. So this was the first season where I was not there.
“However, when it came down to playing for the WPIAL championship at Three Rivers Stadium, I knew I had to find my way back onto the sidelines and I did.”
South Park soared past Shady Side Academy, 38-6.
“With that came all of the excitement of bringing a championship to a school that hadn’t had one since they were Snowden High,” Patrick Loughran said. “From there I remember all the opportunities it brought for the program and players to do things in the community.”
In 2005, Patrick was student-teaching at Baldwin and was getting ready to graduate from Point Park. South Park went into the season as one of the two favorites for the Class AA championship along with its opponent at Heinz Field in the finals: Greensburg Central Catholic.
“My mother was a nervous wreck throughout the whole game,” Patrick Loughran said. “I remember watching and thinking someone else must be calling plays other than my dad because I don’t know if they had ever thrown this many passes before.”
The Eagles prevailed 24-21.
So how does the son of one of the top football coaches in district history follow in his dad’s footsteps but takes a detour to a dugout rather than a sideline?
“From the time Patrick began playing tee-ball, baseball was his sport of choice,” Tom Loughran said. “I always encouraged him but was wise enough to never coach him or push him in another direction. Playing baseball was his passion.”
So when Patrick was an assistant coach at Steel Valley, then took over as head coach this spring, did Papa Tom have any words of advice?
“The same advice that was given to me when I began my career as a head coach,” Tom Loughran said. “Don’t mess it up.”
Added Patrick, “There was never a sit down and discuss situation between us. I know my dad is always there to offer his advice when I need it.”
Patrick’s older brother Tom has a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon and is a professor of statistics at Penn State.
“He is the only Loughran man without WPIAL gold, a fact we will not let him forget,” Tom Loughran said. “Dink and I are extremely proud of both of them.”
Speaking of the matriarch of the Loughran household, was Dink more excited over her husband’s title or her son’s championship?
“I don’t know that I can say definitively which she was more excited for,” Patrick Loughran said. “When all was said and done, I think she yelled at the umpire in our game just as hard as the referees in my dad’s games. She was equally as happy for both of us being WPIAL champions.”
Will there be a third generation coach? Patrick and his wife Jen have two children, son Conall, who turns five this month, and soon to be 2-year-old daughter Brynn.
“I remember so many Friday nights or Saturday afternoons traveling with my dad to scout or just to watch other teams play in a playoff game,” said Patrick Loughran. “Now, I see my son doing the same thing with me. He must have traveled to five or six games this year with me to scout or just watch because he loves baseball.”
“Like father, like son” continues to be the golden rule in the Loughran house.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.