Lovrich Era begins at B-A

Long-time assistant takes over for the retired John Hayes


File photo

Nick Lovrich, the varsity boys track and field coach and a health and PE teacher at B-A, was approved Tuesday night to be the next Blue Devil football coach.

Some people watch scary movies for excitement. Some race cars; others hike dangerous hills.

Bellwood-Antis physical education teacher Mr. Nick Lovrich coaches.

It might not have the heart-stopping capability of a good jump scare or offer the life and death struggle of a bear hunt, but it will get the blood racing, and it’s something Mr. Lovrich has devoted much of his professional career to.

He’s the most successful track and field coach in the history of the boys program with more than 200 victories. He spent time as the varsity girls basketball coach in the early 2000s and was a boys basketball coach for six seasons before that. He’s been a member of the varsity football staff as a coordinator since 1998.

Tuesday night, he was approved by the Bellwood-Antis School Board of Directors as the successor to legendary John Hayes to become the next Blue Devil football coach. It was a hire strongly endorsed by new Athletic Director Charlie Burch, who was also approved at the meeting for his position.

“I’m very excited about the hiring of Coach Lovrich,” Mr. Burch said. “He will keep the program on the right track and bring his ow twists and turns. He has been very influential behind the scenes for many years and already did a lot for our successful program. He is going to do some great things.”

The move has already motivated the 45-year old Mr. Lovrich to step up his heralded work ethic.

I’m the type of person that no matter who was there before me, I’m going to work my rear end off to try to do better and try to improve us.”

— Mr. Lovrich

“I’m the type of person that no matter who was there before me, I’m going to work my rear end off to try to do better and try to improve us,” Mr. Lovrich said. “I’m always up for a challenge. Coaching is my adrenaline rush. I’m going to try to be just as good as what (Coach Hayes) was and put as much time in as he did because I hate to fail.”

Mr. Lovrich, who played football, basketball and track and field while a student at B-A from 1988-1991, has some big shoes to fill, and it’s no secret. Coach Hayes retired in April after 38 years as the Blue Devils’ head coach. In that time he earned 323 victories, won six District 6 championships to go along with 19 conference titles, and led B-A to the PIAA Final Four three times.

But Hayes’ stature doesn’t intimidate Mr. Lovrich, who said he had contemplated the idea of putting in for the job were Coach Hayes to retire. In 2015 he even led the Devils as acting head coach for a brief time when Coach Hayes was dealing with health issues.

“It’s something I have thought about. There were some times when he wasn’t able to be there and I was in charge, and that kind of got me excited, and I saw that I could do the job,” Mr. Lovrich said. “Once it came open and I got over the shock of him not being there anymore, I was excited about applying.”

Mr. Lovrich made it clear that he’s not anticipating major changes to the program. Instead, he spoke of “tweaks” that could be made, while maintaining the same tradition that has guided the Devils for the last 38 years.

“Why change something that isn’t really broken? We’re the envy of a lot of schools,” said Mr. Lovrich. “Schools look at us and say the consistency, the winning tradition, this is what we want. It’s hard to say you want to change that. There’s going to be little tweaks.

“We have so much stuff in our offensive and defensive playbook that I could say we’re going to be spread here or we could go smash-mouth because this is what our players are going to be best at. There may be little tweaks about environment, the locker room, maybe practice a little bit, but the overall philosophy is still going to be the same.”

It’s not that Mr. Lovrich plans to hold onto the past for the past’s sake. Instead, he recognizes how much history plays a role in successful programs, even down to the uniforms a team wears.

“I read an article one time where someone said that Bellwood still wears the striped socks from back in the 1980s, and that’s part of our aura – that we are always the same,” Mr. Lovrich said. “We have the same helmets, we have the same thing on the helmet, we wear the socks, we wear the black shoes. I want our players to be recognized for what they do out there on the field, not for what they look like. We’re going to look sharp, but we’re not going to look like individuals out there. We’re going to look as one team.”

That’s a proposition made easier not just because the players have years of history to¬† build on, but because Mr. Lovrich is a coach who intends to view players as part of a football family.

“I’ve known these kids, and I teach all of these kids,” said Mr. Lovrich. “That really helps. I already have a relationship with them, and I think relationships are one of the biggest things. As a coach you need to be able to get together with your players.”