Elensky’s versatility remembered at C-K
As a former sports coach at Claysburg-Kimmel High School, John Elensky was a throwback.
Elensky — who passed away recently at the age of 83 — was the school’s long-time head baseball coach, and also served a tenure as the school’s head wrestling program after being one of the driving forces in starting the program.
Elensky, who had a 32-year career as a health and physical education teacher at Claysburg before retiring in 1993, was also an assistant varsity football coach at the school.
Former Claysburg-Kimmel athletic director and head football coach Jeff Lingenfelter knew Elensky well, playing football and baseball under Elensky’s direction as a youngster, and later, after Lingenfelter became a health and phys ed instructor at Claysburg himself, teaching along with Elensky.
Lingenfelter respected Elensky’s versatility and dedication as a coach.
“I don’t know which sport may have been his favorite, but he was certainly involved in all of them,” Lingenfelter said of Elensky. “He certainly was a well-rounded coach. Clearly, young people today would not coach that many sports — I don’t know that anybody even could.
“He coached everything,” Lingenfelter added. “School teachers didn’t make a whole lot of money at that time, and if they could pick up a couple extra bucks coaching, they did that. But I can’t imagine (anybody coaching three sports) now because they would be working every night after school and all through the summer.”
Lingenfelter said that Elensky served as a positive career role model for him, and had a strong influence on Lingenfelter’s desire to pursue a teaching and coaching career himself.
“I know that he had a great deal of influence on what I did for a career because I ended up doing the same things that he was doing,” Lingenfelter said. “I decided that I wanted to be involved in teaching health and phys ed, and I certainly ended up in coaching.
“John was a strict disciplinarian, but he was also somebody who was very likable,” Lingenfelter added. “I certainly appreciated what he did.”
Tim Oakes was a former varsity baseball player at Claysburg who pitched and played second base and shortstop for the Bulldogs when Elensky was the head coach.
Oakes, who graduated from Claysburg in 1991, also remembers Elensky as a strong disciplinarian who helped to grease the wheels for Oakes to eventually play Division I college baseball at Coastal Carolina University.
“He had some bark to him, and he could be intimidating, but you really respected him, and he was actually a gentle giant, a great guy,” Oakes said of Elensky. “He and (former assistant CK baseball coach) Dick Hoenstine knew the game real well, and it was a lot of fun playing for them.
“John, Dick, and my Legion coach, Denny Cowher, helped me to better my skills through high school and get into Division I baseball,” Oakes added.
Elensky is survived by his wife, Sandra, their two grown children — their son, Derek, was a former athlete at Claysburg who is now an assistant district attorney for Blair County — and one granddaughter.
A private service will be held at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions can be madeto the Claysburg Area Public Library.