Pat Tarquinio passed away this week at 89.
I mentioned his name once, 500 miles away, and I like to think it changed my life.
You see, Coach Tarquinio was the coach of the Beaver Bobcats. His teams played in the WPIAL, the Western Pennsylvania League that fielded the likes of Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, George Blanda, and Johny U. These are all NFL Hall of Famers. I name just the quarterbacks.
Against these giants, Pat Tarquinio was the winningest high school coach of all time, having paced the sidelines for more than 60 years, winning 12 conference titles and posting seven teams as undefeated.
But what set him apart was his demeanor on the field; calm, deliberate and constantly demonstrating how he cared about his players’ development as young men as well as athletes. It was the one thing that players – and their moms- mentioned most often about him. He cared deeply, and he got amazing performances from each of his players.
When I interviewed for admission at Choate it wasn’t going so well, until the the coach dropped in and asked me where I had been playing receiver in years prior. I mentioned Beaver, PA. His ears perked up and he asked “is that Pat Tarquinio’s program?”
I got my acceptance letter three days later.
That tells you everything you need to know about Coach Pat Tarquinio.