Monday, July 22, 2024

Pete Priola takes over at Beachwood

Beachwood has a new basketball coach now that the Board of Education approved Pete Priola to take over a team that finished 6-17 overall and 1-7 in league play last winter.

“If you asked me about this a month ago, I’d say you’re crazy,” Priola said. “I thought I’d retire over at Bedford, but the opportunity arose to coach in a wonderful district and a wonderful community, and I took a chance, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Priola may be new to coaching in the Chagrin Valley Conference, but the West Geauga alum is very familiar with the conference.

At West Geauga, Priola played football, basketball, and baseball.

After graduation, Priola played football at Heidelberg College and later graduated from Mount Union College with a degree in physical education and a minor in health.

Priola’s path to Beachwood included stops at Euclid, and Berkshire.

He found a home at Bedford, where he began as the eighth-grade coach before a six-year stint as the head varsity coach.

At Bedford, Priola guided the Bearcats to the Lake Erie League championship in 2021 and was named the Cleveland.com Coach of the Year that same season.

Last winter, he secured the 111th win of his career.

While at Bedford, Priola served as an assistant coach on former Beachwood head coach Matt Miller’s staff.

Priola already has hit the ground running at Beachwood.

“I’ve actually met some of the kids for the first time, and I met some of the kids before, but now we had our first official meet and greet open gym,” he said. “There were a lot of candidates up for the job. It’s hard to trust somebody you just meet and get to know, but hopefully, my reputation and coaching experience speaks to that, and they can trust me. We beat a lot of good Division I teams. We beat St. Ignatius, Garfield Heights, Cleveland Heights, Shaker (Heights), Lorain, Brunswick, so we’ve got a lot of good wins on our resume. I told them I’m looking forward to coaching them and we’ll go from there.”

The CVC may lack the powerhouse Division I programs Priola cut his teeth against at Bedford, but the conference has many quality programs from top to bottom.

Priola is prepared to tackle that challenge the same way he did at Bedford.

“I’ve been up against so many great coaches, and they’re all out there trying to do their best,” Priola said. “With me being a West G grad, I’m familiar with the CVC, growing up playing in it. I know Shawn McGregor at Kirtland and Pat Moran, who coached at Berkshire, and I’m friends with Nick Gustin at Madison. There are coaching connections all the way throughout. Every team is going to be well-coached, and we’ve got to prepare no matter who it is. It’s going to be a grind every time we go out there.”

Priola is focused on leading the Bison to many victories each season, but his passion for the game is his true inspiration.

“The game of basketball has shaped my life and continues to bring me immense happiness and joy,” he said. “Coaching basketball has been a part of my life for the last 20 years, and I hope to continue doing what I love for another 20-plus years. Seeing my student-athletes achieve their goals by graduating from high school, playing in college, and graduating from college is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. I want them to achieve their goals and live out their dreams.”

 

 

Steve Hare
Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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