Sharon High product Patrick Cleary recently was named Edinboro University men’s head basketball coach.
Cleary replaces 24-year Fighting Scots’ mentor Greg Walcavich, who recently retired. Cleary served as one of Walcavich’s assistants for the past 14 years.
This is Cleary’s initial head-coaching post, and he becomes Edinboro University’s 10th men’s cage coach. He said on the university’s Web site:
“I am honored to be chosen to follow a legend. Coach Walcavich has taught me so much, and I have been very fortunate to work with him for so long, I wish I could work with him for another fourteen years.
“I love Edinboro University,” Cleary continued. “It is a special place that has prepared me for this challenge. I’m very thankful for the support I’ve received from the people around campus and in the community, and I will work myself to the limit to make Coach Walcavich, (university President Julie E. Wollman), and the entire Edinboro community remain proud of Edinboro basketball.”
After matriculating to Edinboro from Sharon High where he played for the Tigers, Cleary’s coaching career commenced in 1997 as a student assistant. Two years later in the fall of 1999 he was hired as an interim assistant, and he was promoted to full-time assistant’s status in 2000.
Edinboro qualified for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs in both of Cleary’s first two campaigns and advanced to the ’97-98 NCAA Division II Tournament. Subsequently, the Walcavich-led Fighting Scots won back-to-back PSAC crowns and advanced to the NCAA D-II playoffs 3 times in a 4-year period. The program posted a handful of 20-win seasons and an aggregate 229-139 won-lost ledger during Cleary’s 14-year contribution to Walcavich’s tenure.
Cleary, who comes highly regarded as a recruiter, also helped coach 4 NCAA D-II All-Americans and 16 All-PSAC selections. He also serves as co-director of the university athletic department’s Study Program, and Cleary was presented with the 2005 and ’06 Outstanding Supervisor Award for peer tutoring by Edinboro University. He and EU volunteer assistant coach Terry Thompson also co-direct the Achieve Your Dreams program.
“Pat is absolutely the right man at the right time for Edinboro to hire,” Walcavich said on the university’s Web site. “(Cleary) will approach the job working twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred, sixty-five days a year. That’s the way you have to do it. He’s the right person.”
Echoed Edinboro AD (and former wrestling coaching legend and U.S. Olympic wrestler) Bruce Baumgartner, “We feel confident that Pat is the right man for the job. We put quite a bit of time in talking to people about what our next move should be, and it kept coming back to Pat. He had an opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches in the country, and Greg was adamant about Pat’s ability to keep this program moving forward.”
Last year Edinboro ended 18-10 overall (13-9 PSAC-West), defeating Mercyhurst (65-60) in the opening round of the postseason tournament. However the Fighting Scots suffered an 89-87 overtime setback at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on March 5, eliminating Edinboro. Ironically, IUP is coached by another Shenango Valley native, Joe Lombardi.
Cleary, who has residences in both Edinboro and Sharpsville, is a member of the Sons of the American Legion Post 162 in Sharpsville, for which he previously served as chaplain.