New Bellwood boys coach was inspired by Pentoney at young age

Patrick Cassidy is in his first year as the Bellwood-Antis boys basketball coach after leading the Huntingdon girls program to a record of 45-47 in four years.

Cassidy got the Lady Bearcats into the District 6 Class 4A title game a year ago before departing for a job closer to home.

The Hollidaysburg native, who played college basketball at Juniata, moved to Altoona with his wife recently.

The Mirror’s Michael Boytim caught up with Cassidy after one of the Blue Devils’ games.

Q: How has the experience of coaching boys at Bellwood been different than coaching girls at Huntingdon? “As far as teaching the game, it’s all the same. I’d say the biggest difference is emotion versus ego. With boys, it’s really ego driven and with girls it’s really emotionally driven.

“It’s been a good transition for me into Bellwood. We have great players and a great community with a really good staff. The transition has been easy coming in, but leaving was difficult. I think what the girls program down there now has is really good. They are off to a pretty good start, and overall everything has been pretty good. But I’d say the biggest difference is emotion versus ego.”

Q: How tough was it leaving the Huntingdon girls program when you had them on the rise? “We had a really good playoff win last year and got into the district final against Forest Hills. We had everyone returning except two seniors and one starter. That’s the hardest part — the players. Coaching boys or coaching girls, it doesn’t matter. You become really invested in them, and leaving them, especially six seniors coming back, that’s the tough part.

“But at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you, and I got into a spot that’s a little closer to home. Hopefully we can continue to have a pretty good season here at Bellwood.”

Q: When did you first start to realize you wanted to get into coaching? “Honestly, I knew right away from a very early age. In fourth grade, my high school basketball coach Mick Pentoney was my elementary teacher. He was a mentor to me. I grew up playing for him, but when I was in his classroom all those years ago, I knew right there and then that I wanted to be a teacher and a coach.

“He had such a great impact on me and my life. Then I went and played college basketball under (Juniata coach) Greg Curley, and there were a lot of great assistants up there that really shaped a big part of my life. That’s what I want to do as a coach, give back and help whenever I can.”