Dream job: Nedimyer Jr. lands spot at alma mater Altoona

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Vince Nedimyer Jr., who played quarterback for Altoona in the late 1990s, addresses the school board Monday night after being named head coach of the football team.

Vince Nedimyer Jr. clutched an Altoona polo shirt in his hand and struggled to keep his emotions in check as he addressed the Altoona Area School District’s Board of Directors and a small gathering in the William P. Kimmel Board Room Monday night.

According to the son of former AAHS head football coach and Blair County Hall of Famer Vince Nedimyer Sr., he was overjoyed to be accepting a job he’s strived for most of his life.

“It’s been a dream of mine from playing here and my dad being a coach back in the mid-80s,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “I played all the way up (from) elementary and just had an itch for coaching. I coached at Rhode Island when I finished up playing there.

“I could have gone to Southern Arkansas to coach and be a graduate assistant, but I came back here to pursue this.”

The board unanimously approved Nedimyer Jr. at a stipend of $8,000 to be the Mountain Lions’ head football coach and an additional $2,500 to be the weight room manager.

“This board does not always agree with each other,” Board member Wayne Hippo said. “We have the occasional disagreement, but the support for (Nedimyer Jr.) and the fact that we’re putting a maroon-blooded Altoona guy in this position was overwhelmingly supported. We’re thrilled (he’s) here.”

Though Nedimyer Jr., who turns 39 Wednesday, has applied for the job in the past, that actually wasn’t the case when the board originally opened the position previously held by Nick Felus in January.

“I did not (apply originally),” Nedimyer Jr. said. “The interest never leaves, but my career took me a different way the last time it opened up. I had applied three different times, but then the opportunity to become principal came about, so I withdrew my name previously, but the interest was always there.

“I was born and raised here. Some things happened, I talked with Mr. (Brad) Hatch and some of my other bosses and let them know the interest was there. One thing led to another, and here we are.”

Nedimyer Jr. led the Ed Dalton-coached 1997 Altoona team to a 12-1 record as the Mountain Lions’ quarterback. The finish was Altoona’s best in the last 50 years.

Nedimyer Jr. played quarterback at Rhode Island and graduated from there, then moved back into the area and took a physical education job in the Williamsburg school district. He transitioned to teaching at Keith for the final three years of that school and spent a total of 14 years as a physical education and health teacher. The last two years, he’s served as the principal at the William P. Kimmel Alternative School.

“He’s going to do one heck of a job with our young kids coming up through,” Altoona Athletic Director Phil Riccio said. “He’s going to do a heck of a job raising the standards of what we expect from ourselves in this community and throughout this athletic department.

“I’ve had the privilege of coaching him, and I’ve had the privilege of him working for me and I’ve had the privilege of him being my friend. We’re all going to be better people with him as our head football coach.”

Along with his father, Riccio is one of the people that instilled the passion of being a Mountain Lion into Nedimyer Jr.

“Guys like Coach Riccio, who I’ve coached with and played for, Ed Dalton, who I played for here, the pride in this place never goes away,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “It was always in me, and I never lost interest.”

Altoona played its first season back into the Mid-Penn Conference after exiting the WPIAL last season and finished the year 3-7 with just one conference victory.

“I like the Mid-Penn,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “It’s a level of competition that we can compete with. If we put a good product on the field, we can go there and win. It’s hard-nosed, which is what I believe Altoona football is all about as well.”

Altoona also resumed its rivalry with Hollidaysburg last season, something Nedimyer Jr. would like to continue.

“I’d love to,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “I know Coach (Homer) DeLattre. I coached with him a couple years, too. Obviously, that’s something that’s great for the town, both Hollidaysburg and Altoona, and the schools. It brings back the school pride, and those are the things we’re going to push to the forefront. I love that game.”

Nedimyer Jr. is still working on finding a coaching staff but stressed that finding one that brings the best out of his players not just on the field, but off it, is important.

“It’s a work in progress,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “I’ve been reaching out to some people here and there, but it’s been a crazy week. I’m looking forward to finally getting to sit down and get some things organized with that.”

Board member Ron Johnston joked he’d like to see Vince Nedimyer Sr. on the staff, but Vince Jr. said it would be too hard to pry him away from the 85-degree temperature and sun in Florida.

Nedimyer Jr. was pleased by the support he got Monday but took it as a sign he needs to get to work.

“Whether I was expecting (a unanimous vote) or not, you never know, and that’s fine,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “For that to happen makes you feel good, but it’s also a level of, ‘well, we better get some things done,’ because that means they expect you to get kids to succeed, not just on the football field but in the classroom.”

Another one of Altoona’s biggest rivals, State College, has been the class of the Mid-Penn recently and throttled the Mountain Lions, 49-14, in October.

“They do a good job and have a good pool of kids,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “I think it’s just consistency and getting good at your scheme. We can get back there. We have a great pool of kids here to pull from. Fortunately, I did some coaching in junior high, so I know some of the kids who are already here in the high school, and hopefully we get as many kids as possible out for the team and get them in positions where they can succeed.”