New Ligonier Valley AD eager to oversee transition to WPIAL

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Sunday, August 9, 2020 | 5:24 PM


Wesley Siko always knew he wanted to work in sports.

“Since I was a high school athlete, I knew that athletics was the best fit for me,” he said.

“To me, there is no better feeling than helping a learner-athlete reach their goals. In this role, it’s not only my job to support and be an asset to help develop our learner-athletes, but it’s also what’s most important to me.”

Landing his first job as an athletic director during a pandemic, when daily schedules are more suited for the shredder than a bulletin board, was not the ideal foot-in-the-door position he envisioned.

But Siko, the new AD at Ligonier Valley, which eventually is scheduled to begin play in the WPIAL this fall for the first time in 50 years, is up for the challenge and ready to help light the way for a program that had years of success in various sports in District 6.

Siko has a wave of support behind him as the school district begins life in a new environment.

“Even before covid-19 and the pandemic, we knew this season was going to be challenging as our first year in the WPIAL,” Siko said. “On top of that, the pandemic and constant need for adjustments has created challenges that we’re continuing to overcome. My primary goal this year is to create and maintain opportunities for our learner-athletes to compete and do so in a safe manner.

“The WPIAL has given us great guidance throughout the pandemic to help us do just that. And the district leaders have also been a great resource for navigating these difficult times, and we’re fortunate to have them as our support.

Corey Turcheck had been the Rams AD since 2015, but he resigned to teach an entrepreneurial class at the school. Time constraints proved to be a challenge for him.

“I absolutely love working with the students, and that’s what kept me doing it,” Turcheck said of the AD position. “But it was time to have a normal life. It’s hard enough to do the job without teaching, but I was also teaching. A very difficult thing to manage.

“Thankfully, the administration saw that the position has to be solely athletic director, and that’s what Wesley will do.”

Turcheck also will continue to serve as an assistant football coach at Ligonier Valley, something he has done for 15 years.

Siko, 32, a Greensburg Salem graduate, played basketball at his alma mater for coach Paul Sapotichne and later for Tim Loomis at Thiel.

He interned at Indiana High School and was mentored by longtime athletic director Pat Snyder. Siko was an assistant basketball coach for the Indians.

He went on to sports administrative positions at Carnegie Mellon, where he learned from Jason Mlodzianowski, as well as Misericordia University in Dallas (Pa.) and Towson (Md.).

Like many tiered plans that states, districts and programs have tried to follow to return to competition, Siko has some keys he believes Ligonier Valley can embrace to move into the fall — and beyond.

“First, our teams will need to adjust to the new travel,” Siko said. “After being in the same conference and playing the same schools each and every year, you tend to develop a routine. We’ve spent considerable time around our travel planning from controlling costs to ensuring safety both during and after covid-19. Second, our relationships in the community, with other districts and with WPIAL officials are all crucial components. Having resources within and outside of our district will be an important part of our development as a WPIAL school.

“Finally, our learner-athletes just want to compete, and it’s up to us to ensure that they can do that. Being in our infancy stage, this is an important year to make a great impression and establish ourselves as competitors throughout the WPIAL.”

Two other local athletic director spots are expected to be filled in the near future, at Norwin and Yough. Brandon Rapp is the new AD at Hempfield after he left Norwin.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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