Q and A with Jay Circosta …

WOODSFIELD — When you do something for a half a century, there’s no way you could capsulize the amount of people, games, memories and emotions that come to mind.

However, Monroe Central’s Jay Circosta did a pretty good job of that as he took a look back at his career, some of his best players, teams, seasons, including some of his top memories of the Woodsfield and/or Monroe Central rivalry with Beallsville.

Circosta, who paid great attention to detail, picked his words sentiments wisely when he sat down for a one-on-one interview with us about his retirement from coaching.

Here’s how the conversation played out:

TL: Well, now that it’s been almost two months since your formal retirement, how has life changed?

JC: Not really that much. I have been pretty busy. I have felt a sense of a weight being lifted, as far as not having the responsibility of starting to get ready for the 2018 season. The entire family spent time in Florida at our new home. For the first time, I didn’t have to worry about the things that needed to be done when I got home, pertaining to football.

TL: When you officially came to grips with the decision that it was time. How often did you change your mind?

JC: The decision is one I have been off and on for a very long time. Probably off and on for the past ten years, but more often in the last three years. As I got a little older I knew I was in the fourth quarter of the game I really loved, but the end was in sight. It was something that was on my mind 24/7. There were a few times I thought it was the time, but I decided to continue.

TL: You retired in May, and I’m guessing this wasn’t a wake up one morning and that was it kind of decision, so what led to the timing to do it later in the school year.

JC: No, this was not a hasty decision. I said earlier it was a decision I gave a tremendous amount of thought. I knew in my mind for probably a month or so that it was time. My wife and I were in Florida in January and February and I wanted to wait until we got back home. When we got back home we made the decision to go back to Florida and look into buying a house, we had to go back in April to close on the house and furnish it. We got back on May 8th and I turned in my letter on May 11th.

TL: Having said that, what was the winter like? Did you know you would be coaching in 2018 or did you kind of think the juices or mojo, if you will, would get kickstarted during the course of the off season?

JC: I had worried myself sick thinking about the situation. Was it the right or wrong thing to do? Would I be happy if not coaching? What would I do with my time? Would I be able to walk away from a program it took fifty years to build? These were all the questions, but deep down I felt it was time. I wouldn’t have made any difference if it was this year, next year, or ten years from now I knew it was going to be tough!

TL: When you were formally handed in your letter of retirement to your respective school administrators, what was that feeling like?

JC: Very tough! Because of all the thinking about what to do, I knew this made it final. Even though I knew what I was going to do, I didn’t tell anyone. I got up that morning and told my wife I was going to turn in my letter, then I called both of my daughters and told them before I took my letter to the school.

TL: Camp is just a few weeks away, how weird will it be to not officially taking part in a football camp?

JC: Very different and very hard. To do something for 50 years and then all of a sudden, not be doing it, is going to be difficult. Not only will the start of camp be difficult, it will be extremely difficult when the games start. I have always told our seniors that playing your last game and finishing your high school career is tough, but even harder is coming back after graduation and have to watch from the sidelines.

TL: You are one of the most winningest coaches in the state of Ohio, what, if anything would you do over again if you had the chance?

JC: I don’t know if I would do anything different in any way. In fact, I have said if I were to script out my career when I first began coaching, I don’t think I would have scripted my fifty years in coaching any better. I have been truly blessed!!

TL: When you look back on your coaching career, what do you deem your proudest moment?

JC: Having the opportunity to coach and be a part of, and having an influence on five hundred young men’s lives. I was touched in a special way when so many of those players came back to be a part of the fifty year celebration at our last home game this year.

TL: Obviously, you’ve coached a bunch of really talented players, who’ve gone on to be successful people. How much do you value the personal side of coaching?

JC: I have always said that the nice thing about coaching is that when the players are 15, 16, 17, 18 years old you coach them and also serve as a father figure in many cases. When they get older they become your friends, which lasts for a lifetime. I have always told our players that once you are a Redskin or a Seminole you are always a Redskin or a Seminole and if there is anything I can do to help you just let me know.

TL: When you think of the Bealsville games, is there a year that sticks out to you? If so, why?

JC: What a rivalry! One of the best anywhere. It’s really hard to pick one game. I remember that four of our six undefeated seasons ended with wins over Beallsville, 1991-1993-1995 and 2002. All of the games had all the hype and were extremely intense living up to the hype. One of the greatest openings to any Beallsville game, or for that matter that any game that was in 1995. It was a TV9 game of the week. After all four of the seniors planted lit spears into the Seminole head, the Devil mascot tried to put them out with a fire extinguisher. A scuffle ensued and the Devil’s head caught on fire. As George Kellas said on air the Devil’s head is on fire. The Seminoles went on to win 35-9. What an opening!

TL: While coaching so many talented players, I am guessing you had guys on your team from time to time who weren’t very good players, but continually showed up each day, worked their rear ends off and made themselves better than their original skill set would have. How rewarding were those types of stories as a coach?

JC: Those guys were the real success stories. Those young men that you call your players, that posses a lot of ability usually take care of themselves. It is those players who work extra hard to earn a position. As we say they pay their dues through hard work and in the long run it pays off. I have had players that when they were freshman are the smallest and slowest players on the team. As junior and seniors they ended up being a starter, I have even seen some kids that I have wondered why they even came out. Again, as a senior they were not only a starter, but played a key role in the successes of the team. That is what coaching is all about.

TL: Not talking about strategies and such, but how has Ohio Valley football changed since you became head coach? And do you foresee continued changing?

JC: I feel over the years the players have changed and the parents have changed. I feel there are more skilled players today opposed to years ago. I think one of the biggest disappointments today is in the number of kids involved in the game of football. Kids, in general, today are not willing to put forth the work ethic to become a football player. I feel the game has been threatened by the widespread talk of concussions. I feel the player is better protected by improved helmets. I also feel the state mandating and requiring testing and knowledge of how to play the game in this area makes our players safer.

TL: You interviewed or considered a few other jobs early in your coaching career, do you ever ask yourself, what if I had taken that job? Either way, if did or didn’t why?

JC: There were a couple of jobs that I interviewed for but I can honestly say as I look back, even though they were great coaching jobs, I don’t regret for one second not taking either of those jobs. I have been extremely satisfied being at Woodsfield and Monroe Central my entire coaching career. I couldn’t have picked a better school or community.

TL: Your wife has been such a huge part of your career, how big of an impact has your retirement had on her?

JC: It is hard for me to speak for her, but her life will be a lot easier. I say that because she had been involved in so many ways. She has been the driving force behind the Football Moms. She did so many things that people will never know. The things she has done for me and the football program are countless.

TL: What was your family’s reaction when you told them you were done?

JC: I think somewhat surprised that I actually did it. I had talked about retiring so many different times, I think they thought, here we go again. I owe everything to my family for the support that they have given me over the past fifty years. They have always said it was my decision on how long to coach. They allowed me to pursue what has truly been my passion. I love them!

TL: Provide a brief synopsis of what Monroe Central fans can expect, in your opinion, of the 2018 Seminoles.

JC: I hope they will see a typical Seminole football team that plays with pride and tradition. I know the players will work hard and the coaches will do a good job in preparing them to be successful. I will be their biggest fan.

TL: Lastly, be honest. Did you and Dave know each other would be retiring on the same day?

JC: I can honestly say that Dave and I didn’t talk, and neither one of us knew the other was going to retire. Dave has been an outstanding coach and developed a great program at Martins Ferry. Not only is Dave a great coach, but he is a tremendous individual that cares about kids.


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