WEST MIDDLESEX – Ask Chad Mild a question and you’ll receive a concise, no frills, straight-to-the-heart response. So when Mild made his decision to resign as West Middlesex High boys’ basketball coach, he summarized his sentiments in characteristic fashion:
“West Middlesex is who I am. It made me who I am, and anything I can give back to the West Middlesex school district and community ... I’m forever in their debt,” Mild told The Herald in a Wednesday phone conversation.
Mentor Mild emerged as Middlesex’s career coaching wins leader (362). His 21-year tenure tallied a 362-195 ledger (65 percent).
According to archives at The Herald, Mild concluded his coaching career on a short list of legends, including: Eddie McCluskey (615-157), Don Fee (432-221), Joe Votino (421-126), Nick Cannone (404-257), Dave Cook (401-290), and Pete Collodi (380-70).
During his own playing days for the Big Reds, Mild was coached by Cannone and Gary Revale.
The 47-year-old Mild, who has been a teacher at his alma mater for 23 years, said his decision is based on his family’s well-being.
“With this coronavirus I’ve been spending time with my family, especially my dad,” Mild began, emphasizing, “His health is great. But I’ve enjoyed spending time with my wife (Trinda), my son (Casey), and my parents (including mother, Helen), who live right beside me. ... It’d just be tough for me to go back (to coaching) and leaving my parents.
“It’s just time,” Mild related, admitting, “This is a tough decision, but one I’ve been thinkin’ about for a while now, and it’s time.”
After taking up former Big Reds’ head coach Larry Ellison’s invitation to join the staff (serving as an assistant for 6 seasons), Mild stamped West Middlesex on the map of District 10 and PIAA basketball. Although he said he “did not want to single out” a specific season or particular player, some of Mild’s most memorable moments may have included:
• 2018-19 – 18-9, District 10 Class 2A consolation contest (losing to Lakeview, 49-46), PIAA playoff berth.
• 2017-18 – 21-7, District 10 Class 2A championship, PIAA quarterfinals.
• 2016-17 – District 10 Class 2A championship game berth (losing 59-50 to Wilmington), PIAA playoff berth, despite an 11-16 record.
• 2015-16 – 20-9, District 10 Class AA consolation game (61-54 win over Northwestern), PIAA Western Regional semifinals (losing to eventual state champion undefeated Aliquippa).
• 2014-15 – 25-4, District 10 Class AA championship (defeating Fairview, 66-34, thereby completing a AA 3-peat, preceded by another in Class A), PIAA Western Regional championship game berth (losing to eventual state runner-up Aliquippa).
• 2013-14 – 21-6, District 10 Class AA championship (defeating Fairview, 55-54), PIAA 2nd round berth (losing to Greensburg Central Catholic, 73-57).
• 2012-13 – 25-4, District 10 Class AA championship (defeating Lakeview, 71-65, in 5 OTs), PIAA Western Regional championship game berth (losing to eventual state champion Beaver Falls, 59-47).
• 2011-12 – 22-5, District 10 Class AA championship (defeating Kennedy Catholic, 41-38, in OT on Jerod Palmer’s buzzer-beating corner 3-pointer), PIAA Western Regional semifinals berth (losing to eventual state runner-up Lincoln Park Performing Arts Academy, 47-45). The D-10 championship was the 1st for West Middlesex’s program since 1980.
• 2010-11 – 15-11, District 10 Class AA championship game berth (losing to defending champion Rocky Grove, 67-59), PIAA playoff berth.
• 2009-10 – 17-7, District 10 Class AA semifinals berth (losing to eventual champion Rocky Grove, 53-51).
• 2005-06 – 20-6, District 10 Class A semifinals berth.
As with many small, rural communities the Mild family tapestry is woven through West Middlesex.
Mild’s father, Fred, was a stalwart on the 1954 state championship (then Class C) West Middlesex squad; his brother, Troy, was an NCAA Division II All-American at Slippery Rock University (and Mercer County Hall-of-Famer), and Mild had the opportunity to coach nephews Troy Mild, Jr.; his sister Lori’s sons Matt and Ryan Dogan, and his twin brother Brad’s sons Gabe and Luke, as well as his own son Casey (a biology major at Slippery Rock University).
“Coaching my own son was a privilege, and something I never thought I’d have been able to do,” Mild admitted.
Matt Dogan concluded his scholastic career as Mercer County’s scoring leader (2,240), while Ryan Dogan also surpassed the career 1,000-point plateau (1,020). Additionally, former standout Trey Staunch (2,131) concluded his career 2nd in county scoring annals to Dogan. Staunch ultimately became a 2-sport standout at Edinboro University, while Matt Dogan enjoyed a stellar career at Gannon University.
“It was a pleasure to coach every one of them,” Mild mused. “That doesn’t often happen, but I was very fortunate to be able to do it.”
Mild’s last edition of the Big Reds recorded a 9-14 overall (5-7 Region 2A) ledger, losing in this past season’s D-10 tournament opening round to Maplewood (58-56).
“It was time, but I feel I left (the program) in good position to be successful,” Mild (WMHS Class of 1991) assessed, continuing, “I just wanted to do what was best for the kids; it was always about the kids,” he emphasized. “It was never about winning, but trying to get everybody to sacrifice for the larger picture, and I feel that we’ve done that.
“I was never a self promoter-type of guy, and I tried to stay out of social media,” Mild continued. “I don’t like the attention. It’s always been about the players. We’ve never focused on wins or losses, but always on making every player better, to be the best human being and citizen they could be.”
Mild admires loyalty and noted, “I’ve had numerous players who’ve been loyal, great players like Josh Holzworth and Matt Dogan and Trey Staunch. But there’s no one team that was more special than another, to me. I treated ‘em all the same, and they all have a special place to me.”
To that point, Mild’s loyalty is legendary, and has been reciprocal.
“It’s been unbelievable!” he began. “The community has been very supportive of me ... the school and administration have been unbelievable ... the players over the years – I can’t thank them enough – all the assistant coaches who’ve helped me, and the countless number of people I’ve called on over the years who’ve helped me become a coach and succeed.
“I won’t forget,” he emphasized.
A small-town kid at heart, Mild admitted he “can’t wait to spend (his) free time with his family. Reflecting on his enviable career, he summarized,
“I wouldn’t trade anything, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I had no desire to teach or coach anywhere else. I’m grateful for everything, and just hope it can carry on. ... It’s been an unbelievable ride.
“My heart is in West Middlesex and always will be, and I’ll always be there to support them.
“I’ve loved every minute of it. ... I had the time of my life,” Mild reflected.