Matt Apicella enjoyed a stellar playing career on the baseball diamond. Now the Shadyside High graduate is carving out another impressive athletic-related career in South Carolina.
Apicella was named to the all-Ohio baseball team as a Tiger senior in 1994. He went on to play collegiately at Muskingum University for Ron Mazeroski. He later transferred to The Ohio State University to complete his academic endeavors.
While his playing days are now clearly in the rear view mirror, Apicella has distinguished himself as a high school coach and educator. Now the 37-year-old has taken on yet another challenge.
Apicella was recently named as athletic director at Lake City High School in Lake City, S.C. The school is ideally placed, located just 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach.
"It is always something I wanted to do (becoming an athletic director)," Apicella said in a phone interview Thursday. "I have had some good mentors to prepare me for the job. I am in a great situation."
As athletic director, Apicella will be overseeing 10 sports at Lake City.
He will also continue as the school's head baseball coach. He has been with the program for 13 years, the last four as head coach.
Apicella is 58-38 in four years as Lake City's head coach, including a 12-10 mark this past spring. The Panthers finished second in Region 7-2A, losing in the district final. He was the 2011 region coach of the year and has had 20 of his players sign to play college baseball.
We have always had a strong baseball tradition at Lake City," he said. "South Carolina is a big baseball state. It is highly competitive.
"This will be the first time in 15 years I will not be on the football sidelines as a coach. But I wanted to make sure I handled all my athletic director duties correctly. It is something I may re-visit in the future," he continued. "As athletic director, I want to build up our relationship with the community. We have more alumni involved than ever before. I hope to build support for our programs like there is back in the Ohio Valley."
When Apicella headed to the Palmetto State, he intended to make it just a one-year stay.
"I found out that South Carolina was in need of teachers. I was fully intent on making it just a one-year plan. I got an alternative certification," Apicella. "I enjoyed it so much, I have been here ever since. I expect to spend my entire career here."
Apicella carries his coaching expertise into the classroom, where he teaches high school English. He was named Florence County District 3's Teacher of the Year in 2011.
"We have nine schools in our district, so it was a real nice award to receive," Apicella said. "I won a trip to New Orleans to watch the Sugar Bowl. Ohio State was in it the game and it was Terelle Pryor's last game with the Buckeyes."
Matt is single.
His mother, Barbara Foster Apicella, still resides in Shadyside.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com