Jeff Mesich is really a jack of all trades in the realm of football.
As a player, Mesich played in all three key areas - offense, defense, and special teams. Those experiences have helped him understand what a player is thinking pretty much on any given play.
Such versatility is also what allowed Mesich, who was recently hired as the head football coach at Eastern York, to thrive both at NCAA Division I programs Akron University and the University of Montana as a player.
After his collegiate career ended, Mesich went into the coaching business. Over the past six year, he's been involved with the Northeastern High School football program, the last of which were as the defensive coordinator.
With all of his compiled experiences and knowledge, Mesich is ready to demonstrate that he is the right person to lead the Golden Knights now and into the future.
We caught up with new Eastern head coach recently to discuss his new job and his plans for helping the Golden Knights for this edition of Sports Q&A:
Did you apply only at Eastern or did you apply for other open jobs in the county as well?
A: “Eastern was really the only job that I was interested in this offseason. I went through the application process and the interview process and came out on the other side with the job. It worked out pretty fortuitously.”
How long were you involved with the Northeastern program?
A: “I was there in different capacities for the past six years. I have about nine total years of coaching experience, including my time in Pittsburgh before me and my wife moved to this area.”
Where did you coach out in Pittsburgh?
A: “I coached at my alma mater, which is Greensburg Central Catholic, to start. My high school coach gave me my start. And then I worked at Hampton Township as well. I was the middle school track coach at Hampton Township as well. And that also started my track coaching career. Before this winter, I was the head track coach at Northeastern as well, until I took a position at Penn State Harrisburg.”
So you’re going to be the football coach at Eastern and a track coach at Penn State Harrisburg too?
A: “Yeah. The schedules line up in the right way. As of right now it hasn’t been a problem. I’m just an assistant coach, a jumps coach, for Penn State Harrisburg. So I’m there just a couple times a week. During the season I go to the meets and this weekend we have the ECAC regionals, which are in New York. But they don’t really overlap at all. With the way the football works out, it sets up perfectly with my work schedule.”
Do you teach as well?
A: “No I do not. I’m a cooperate trainer and an IT professional in my other life. But the things I do on a daily basis is very similar to teaching, just not with kids…I’m teaching adults.”
Since taking over at Eastern last month, how have the kids and everyone responded?
A: “The kids have been great. They’re really excited to get started. They’re learning what kind of things I like to do as a program and the vision that I and the coaching staff has as a vision for us going forward. And I just want to say that the administration and the community at Eastern have just been tremendous too. After spending all those years at Northeastern I wasn’t sure how at home I would feel and how long that would take, but the folks at Eastern have really made me feel like that in just a couple of weeks. It’s really amazing.”
Coming over after being defensive coordinator at Northeastern, does that mean that defense is your strong suit as a coach?
A: “Not really. The way I became the defensive coordinator at Northeastern is a funny conversation. (Coach) Jon Scepanski and I have known each other for a couple of years. And when he became the head coach, we talked about the different kind of things that I can do. It just happened that during the offseason that my work situation changed a little bit so that I could coach more consistently every day and take a bigger role. So he asked me if I wanted to be a coordinator and we were talking about it and then he asked me would I rather be the offensive or defensive coordinator. And I said, ‘Well, Jon, you’re the head coach. Which would you rather do?’ And he said that he’d rather be the offensive coordinator so I said, ‘Alright. Cool. I’ll be the defensive coordinator then.’ So that’s how that kind of came about.”
Where did you play in college?
A: “I played at Akron and Montana. I’m someone that made a change in the middle of my college experience. So I got a chance to play at two different places and under two very different systems both offensively and defensively.”
What position did you play?
A: “I played offense, as a wide receiver and as a punt returner, and defense, as a strong safety, both. Doing (both) kept me flexible and really helped me with my knowledge. I knew I wasn’t going to be an NFL player so I knew I had to figure out what I was going to do when the football stuff was really done.”
What’s your goal for this season, your first one there at Eastern?
A: “The biggest one for me, which is the one that is pretty much that same every year, is for the kids to leave the program in better shape than when they came into it. Hopefully the kids learn to be better citizens as well as football players. But also that the kids had fun and can look back and say ‘I’m really glad I played football this season’. So developing kids and having fun. And when you do those things you tend to be successful.”
— You can reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com