CURWENSVILLE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Coach Andy Evanko WAS Curwensville. If he wasn’t at Riverside Stadium, (now Andy Evanko Stadium), he could be found at the school or at other sporting events as a volunteer all year long.
“He wore gold and black and white or grey to school everyday,” says Andy’s brother John. “If it said ‘Curwensville Golden Tide’ on it, he had it on.”
On the field, Coach Evanko had all the accomplishments you could ask for out of a hall of fame coach — 150 career wins, 17 of 19 years in the playoffs, 15 straight seasons going to the playoffs, a state final four appearance, three district titles — but it’s overall impact to the community and the people he crossed paths with that solidifies him as a hall of fame person.
“He was the total package when it came to helping people.” says Allen Leigey, Athletic Director at Curwensville. “The biggest thing he taught me was to always take care of our kids.”
Coach Evanko always told his players that he would be there for them. Former player and assistant coach Brad Sopic explains, “Every practice he would ask kids if you have something going on or you need something, he would give everyone his home phone number.”
Another former player and assistant Dean Swatsworth added, “If you needed him, he was there for you. There were multiple times where all I needed to do was call him up and say, ‘Coach, I’m struggling with this. I need this.’ He was there. I just know growing up he’d say, ‘You need me — you call me.'”
It was how they were doing outside of football that Coach Evanko truly cared about. Swatsworth explains, “He was prepping you for when you got older in life.”
Sopic adds, “We had people go on to be doctors, military members and business leaders and a lot of that can be contributed to learning how to overcome adversity from Coach Evanko.”
Evanko stood firm in the face of adversity. His tough battle with ALS never saw him quit or take a day off.
“He didn’t miss anything. He was at every practice. He was at every game. He called the offense every single game. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like that,” described Sopic.
Coach Mikey Morgillo coached with Evanko for 19 years. He saw first hand how Evanko continued coaching even after losing his voice to ALS. “He would actually write the plays and send them out to the kids,” Morgillo detailed. “Never once did he think about quitting.”
Evanko’s brother John serves on the school board. On whether there was a thought of Evanko not coaching the team, John says “He’d ask me, ‘I’m I still the coach?’ and I’d say, ‘Andy you’re still the coach until you decide you’re not the coach.’ And he was the coach until the end.”
On Sunday, May 30 Coach Evanko will be inducted with the class of 2021 into the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) Hall of Fame.
On the honor, Liegey says, “The best honor to me was that he was a hall of fame coach by far, but he was a hall of fame friend by far to me than anything.”
Coach Andy Evanko will be enshrined for his accomplishments on the field, but it’s his impact beyond the gridiron that will last in Curwensville forever.