New athletic director impressed with zeal for sports at Sewickley Academy

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Sunday, June 9, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Sewickley Academy announced the hiring of Mike Scerbo as the school’s new director of athletics March 4. He is currently assisted by Heather Border and Kelly Carioto.

Scerbo was formerly an associate athletic director for sport and facilities operations at Duquesne University. He spent 11 years coaching women’s lacrosse and seven in administration with oversight of 12 varsity sports, facilities, operations, equipment and the PNC Leadership Academy.

Scerbo played three years of college lacrosse at Division I State University of New York at Stony Brook as an attackman and ended his playing career at SUNY Oswego in 1995.

He attained the Duquesne coaching position in 2005 after a four-year stint as an assistant coach at Ohio State from 2002-05 where he helped guide the Buckeyes to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances and one American Lacrosse Conference title.

Prior to his move to Columbus, Ohio, Scerbo was the women’s lacrosse coach for five seasons at Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C. He coached Limestone’s first team in 1997 and developed the program to national prominence.

Scerbo was also an associate athletic director and an admissions representative at Limestone. In 2007, he was inducted into Limestone’s Hall of Fame.

Sewickley’s new AD earned the 2021-22 President’s Cup Award presented by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. The award is given to a member of the lacrosse community who has displayed distinguished contributions to collegiate women’s lacrosse.

Scerbo left Ohio State to come to Pittsburgh to take over as the second head coach of the Duquesne women’s lacrosse program.

He took time recently for a Q&A interview with the Sewickley Herald:

How have the first few months of your tenure as director of athletics gone?

The first 100 days have very busy, but all in a great way. I have been able to meet with key stakeholders and begin some wonderful relationships in the Sewickley Academy community.

What have you enjoyed the most in your new capacity?

The best part has been the people. Everyone — faculty, staff, students and parents — have all been so warm and welcoming. There is truly a passion here for athletics, and I have been amazed at how open everyone has been.

What are some of the biggest differences from your work at Duquesne?

The biggest difference has been that I have had to have a hand in everything. In my role at Duquesne, I had my areas of oversight. Now, being the AD, I have to be responsible for all aspects of the department. It has been great, but there is a learning curve as I navigate some areas that were not part of my day to day.

What are some of the things about your new position that you did not anticipate?

I think the biggest thing is how critical athletics is to SA. Seventy-six percent of students in the senior school play at least one varsity sport. To me, that is a huge number. At Duquesne, there were 450 student-athletes, but the overall population was around 8,000, so the impact was not as far-reaching.

With that many kids playing competitive sports, the athletic department goes from being the front porch of the school to being an intimate partner in the overall success of the school. What is great about this fact is that everyone here embraces and supports athletics. All of us are here to see our students be successful in all of their endeavors, so we all work together to create the best possible environment for them.

What takes up most of your time on a daily basis?

Meetings. Every week, my schedule has filled up quickly with various meetings. It has been great to spend time with various individuals, to get to know them and understand how my role and decision-making impacts each of them, but it has been wonderful to get to know all of the various individuals. There are people with passion and wonderful ideas.

Have you made any changes or adjustments in the athletic program at Sewickley?

We have been able to make four head coaching hires in my short time here and all of them have been critical hires. We hired a head coach for girls soccer, Gary Weber, a head coach for boys basketball, Mike Iuzzolino, a head coach for boys golf, Chuck Scally, and I will be taking the role of head coach for girls lacrosse. We have also created a new opportunity for kids interested in rowing and we have partnered with Moon for a co-op in football. Thanks to all the behind-the-scenes prep work done by Heather Border, Kelly Carioto and the rest of the administration, it has been a productive 100 days.

What is your immediate and future vision for the SA athletic program?

In the short term, we want to establish an identity for our department. I would like to have a consistent culture that transcends the culture of individual teams and creates an experience that is consistent across all programs. Short-term goals for each program are going to be different since each team is at a different stage in their development. For some, it is to simply stabilize or grow the rosters. For others, it is to make a run at WPIAL titles and to compete in the PIAA tournament. Long term, we hope to return to the overall excellence of athletics that was a hallmark of Win Palmer’s tenure.

More specifically, what are you anticipating for Sewickley Academy sports teams for the 2024-25 school year?

Next year, I think we have a shot at winning a WPIAL title in boys golf and to defend our WPIAL title in boys tennis. I also think we will see most, if not all, teams be successful enough in their section to make the WPIAL championships.

In 2023-24, we had eight teams compete in the WPIAL tournament: boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, boys golf, boys basketball, baseball, boys tennis and girls lacrosse. Next year, I am confident that each of those teams will return to the WPIALs, and we could add girls basketball, boys lacrosse and softball. The coaches of each of those programs are working hard to develop their teams, and I think they will see the benefits in the end.

What are your thoughts on the rich tradition of SA athletics?

The tradition and history of successful athletics at SA is one of the reasons I looked at this position. There is a roadmap to success for all of our programs, and I am confident we can restore all of them to the status of contenders in the WPIAL.

I know I have big shoes to fill, taking over for a legend in high school athletics, but success starts with people. Great coaching leaders and truly competitive athletes that are dedicated to success will be the key to us returning to that level. I am just very fortunate to be a part of something that promises to be very special.

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