Penn Cambria hires football coach, AD

The Penn Cambria School District didn’t look far for its next athletic director and high school football coach.

The Penn Cambria School Board approved the hiring of Cresson’s Chuck Terek as AD and Penn Cambria graduate Jason Grassi as football coach at a scheduled meeting Tuesday night.

“We’re real excited to find two such high-caliber candidates from within the district,” Penn Cambria superintendent Mary Beth Whited said. “It’s always a plus when they’re part of the community. We were fortunate to have several good internal applications. We have high expectations and believe these two can deliver.”

Terek, 51, is a 1979 Forest Hills High School graduate who has played, coached and refereed at the high school and college levels. He has 25 years in management and finance and spent the last three years working toward his master’s degree in human resources at St. Francis University and helping with fund-raising for the Red Flash football team.

He will officially begin his new duties, which is a full-time position, on March 11. He will succeed Ernie Fetzer, who stepped down as AD and football coach on Oct. 24.

“I recently went back to get my emergency substitute teaching certificate,” Terek said. “I sub-taught the last few years and really enjoyed the interaction with the children. I also, a few years back, coached a group of kids who are now Penn Cambria athletes. It will be nice to get back in the sports side [of business].”

Terek and his wife, Kimberly, have two children in the Penn Cambria School District – Shannon, a senior, and Daniel, a freshman.

Grassi, 35, lives in Altoona and is a science and math teacher at Penn Cambria Middle School. He graduated from Penn Cambria in 1996 and went on to play defensive tackle at Lock Haven University.

His coaching career included assistant positions at Bethany College, Lock Haven and Portage High School, where he spent four seasons under Gary Gouse. He coached the Penn Cambria eighth graders two years ago, the ninth graders in 2011 and was an assistant under Fetzer and interim coach Tony Tomaselli – Grassi’s high school coach – with the Penn Cambria varsity this past season.

“I’ve put in a lot time, and this was one of my dreams to coach my alma mater,” Grassi said. “I think being a young coach will help bring a little bit of excitement. We have a good tradition here at Penn Cambria, and I want to build on that tradition and take us to the next step.”

Grassi said he liked how the Penn Cambria football players worked through a difficult stretch this past season when Fetzer abruptly resigned.

“We lost four in a row, but our kids battled to win the last two games,” Grassi said. “We just happened to run into Richland in the playoffs. That just shows these kids have a hard-nosed core group. They are working hard right now to get all the pieces in place for next season.”

Whited said Penn Cambria received 38 applications for the AD job and 16 for the football position. Only two candidates were eventually interviewed for the football position – Grassi and another in-house applicant.

“It took us awhile,” Whited said, “but we’re squared away now.”