Shane Swope tabbed to coach Monessen football

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 11:44 PM


There’s a new man at the helm of the Monessen football program, looking to steer the ship in what he believes is the right direction.

“Everyone knows the tradition at Monessen, but it’s gotten away from that standard. I’m excited to be the guy to bring it back to prominence,” said new Greyhounds coach Shane Swope, who was unanimously hired by the Monessen School Board Tuesday night.

“I want to thank the Monessen School Board, athletic director Gina Naccarato, principal Eric Manko and superintendent Dr. Leanne Spazak for giving me the opportunity. I’m very grateful and humbled by the whole process.

“I also want to thank the administration at the Yough school district. They gave me my first opportunity, and I’m so grateful for that as well.”

Yough and former Cougars head coach Scott Wood played what Swope called a “vital role” in developing him as a coach.

A 1999 Yough graduate, Swope called himself a newcomer when it comes to coaching experience, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t fully prepared to take on the varsity head coaching role with the Greyhounds.

Over the last four years, Swope was a varsity assistant coach under Wood, head coach of the middle school team and worked with the Yough youth program.

“I felt like it was the right time for me to branch out and take a shot at having my own program,” Swope said.

That experience and skill set in developing younger players was of particular interest to those involved in the hiring process, including Monessen athletic director Gina Naccarato, who said a field of 10 candidates became six candidates, before making a decision to go with Swope from a strong pool of potential hires.

“It was Shane’s energy that won us over,” Naccarato said. “We felt that he had the energy to bring the program back to where it needs to be. It all starts with the youth and middle school programs. We know that it’s not going to be overnight; it’s going to be a process.”

After the Greyhounds ended the 2019 season with 13 players able to dress for competition, whether or not Monessen would decide to field a team for the 2020 season became a hot topic.

But it has never been a question for Naccarato, who has consistently stated, “we plan on fielding a team next season,” a statement made following the resignation of three-year Greyhounds coach Mikey Blainefield after the 2019 season.

With the hiring of Swope, that plan continues to take shape.

“Our preliminary numbers show 22 kids are interested in trying out for the team,” said Monessen Superintendent Dr. Leanne Spazak, who is confident more players will be motivated to try out for the team now that a new coach has joined the fold.

“We wouldn’t hire a new football coach if we didn’t think we would have a football team,” said Spazak, calling the talk of potentially not fielding a team and low interest from players, “speculation and rumors started by other people.”

The previous lack of numbers isn’t phasing Swope.

“The fact that they were low in numbers last year doesn’t scare me off at all,” Swope said. “I truly believe in myself and in the people I’m going to surround myself with on staff, to get the numbers back up where they need to be.

“My goal is not just to have Monessen high school football, my goal is to build Monessen’s football program, so that’s from the top all the way down, no disconnect, 12th grade all the way down to kindergarten.”

Swope’s immediate plans are to get to work in the community, getting to know people in Monessen, from its citizens to fellow coaches in the school district, conveying that he will be accessible to the community as a whole, and that includes those who are thinking about playing football at any level.

“Myself and the guys I plan to surround myself with are all high energy. Kids relate to us and want to be around us and our work ethic,” Swope said.

Fresh attention to detail is a focus for Swope who hopes to revamp the team’s facilities and make it more welcoming to players.

From an x’s and o’s standpoint, Swope plans to run more of a spread offense but wants to be flexible enough to run anything that fits best with their personnel. Defensively, expect the Greyhounds in an odd-man front with multiple looks.

Whether it’s a fresh look on the field, on the roster, or in the locker room, expect a renewed energy and focus on restoring the tradition of Monessen football, from a first-time varsity head coach who believes he’s ready to make his mark.

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