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“Follow The Leader”: Long-Time Hopewell Youth Coach Jamie Yurcina

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(“Follow The Leader” is a feature story that Hopewell Sports Nation started that highlights adults that are making a difference in our community. Since you see them around so much, it’s an attempt to let you know more about them away from the playing field). 

Youth sports in community are only as strong as the people that run it and choose to be a part of it in order to make a difference.

For over a decade, Jamie Yurcina has done just that and it’s one of the many reasons why youth sports in Hopewell are so successful both on and off the field.

Hopewell Sports Nation sat down recently with Yurcina to look back over his involvement in various Hopewell sports, why being involved is so important to him and what him and his wife, Brandi, like to do when they’re not coaching or cheering on their children, Jackson and Gia.

Yurcina’s resume coaching sports in Hopewell began in the early 2000’s and includes coaching boys’ basketball at Fatima, youth girls’ basketball, youth softball, youth baseball and Pony League baseball. Yurcina also served many years on the Hopewell Youth Baseball Board.

Jamie’s heavy involvement in baseball is not a surprise considering that was his main sport growing up and while attending Hopewell High School and graduating in 1993. Like the current Hopewell High School baseball program, Yurcina was involved in a lot of success under legendary coach Joe Colella.

Coach Colella was head coach of the Hopewell baseball program for 48 years and collected 662 career wins, 3 WPIAL championships ,1 PIAA state championship and 16 section championships. In 2011, Colella was inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame.

A lot of times, winning in high school sports is a cyclical thing but that’s not case with Hopewell High School baseball, as they consistently win and are very competitive. Being a Hopewell native, someone that played under Coach Colella and someone that’s followed the program through the years, I asked Yurcina about the secret to the success.

“I think it’s been a buy-in from the kids throughout the years and upholding the tradition,” said Yurcina. “I think it starts with the youth programs. For many years, there have been a lot of good people that have been involved in the youth program. It also has to do with good coaches in the district. Coach Colella, Coach Shuleski, who learned from Coach Colella and brought the Coach Colella mentality to Hopewell baseball, which has now carried over to Coach Singletary. It’s been very fun to watch over the years.”

Speaking of fun to watch, Yurcina tells HSN that he’s had so much fun over the last 20+ years, being involved in some fashion and to see kids that he’s helped coach grow up and have success both on and off the field. For Yurcina his reason for being involved this many years is pretty simple.

“Over the years, I’ve just loved being around the kids. Watching them get better, teaching them at those younger ages. To see them progress through the years and watching them grow, not just as baseball players. Looking at these young men that are 14 years old and I was with them when they were 4 years old. It’s both amazing and rewarding to watch them grow. That’s the whole purpose of the youth program. I try and tell them that we’re not doing this for now, it’s for when you get to high school. You win a WPIAL championship, you win a Section Championship, that’s the stuff that you’ll remember forever. You might not remember the tournament that we won at CV when we were 8 years old, but you’ll remember that WPIAL tournament or Section Championship for the rest of your lives.”

“I don’t have the number on me, but I think it’s like we’ve been in 12 tournament championship games. Maybe only won like 3 but so many second places and to be able to hand those kids a trophy and to see the smiles on their faces was always a great feeling. That’s what brings you back the next year. It’s not about me, it’s all about the kids. Now with the girls’ basketball team we’re coaching, it’s two years in a row in the county championship game. We haven’t gotten over the hump of beating Aliquippa yet (laughing) but we’re right there.”

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Being this involved in the youth sports program hasn’t been easy considering his 9-5 job (LOL not really the hours he works as they’re ALOT more), the Hopewell Township Manager.

“Being the manager of the township isn’t an easy task (laughing),” said Yurcina. “Running all of the departments, keeping all of our infrastructure up to date, making sure everything is running.”

“Growing up, my dad and I had a surveying and engineering business, and my dad was getting ready to retire. I watched what my dad did and the amount of time that he was putting into the business. It’s not always the best thing to own your own business. My kids were really small, and I thought, I’m not going to have time to coach, to be involved with them, to see their games because I’ll be working in the days and in the evenings. I was at the township building one day, the engineer of the township said why don’t you come work for me. So, I started in the engineering department of the township. We used to have our own engineering department, it was me and another woman.”

A couple years later after a couple people retired, Yurcina was promoted and hired to be Hopewell’s Township Manager five years ago. So, in total, Jamie has worked for Hopewell Township for the last 10 years.

Free time isn’t something that happens a lot, but when it does, the Yurcina family definitely has something they like to do together.

“We love to camp,” said Yurcinia. “We actually just sold, for the last five years we had a camper up in Shenango on a permanent site. So, every weekend when there weren’t any games, we were camping, and we loved it. That was a big thing that we enjoyed doing together as a family. Jackson and I also love to fish and hunt. That might be Jackson’s number one thing. I think if I told him he couldn’t go fishing because he had baseball, he’d go fishing (laughing).”

Aside from being able to be around his children, Jamie’s pride is a bit different than most people that are involved in Hopewell because he’s truly a Hopewell guy since childhood which makes EVERYTHING he’s doing professionally and athletically extra special.

I finished our conversation by asking Jamie what Hopewell means to him.

“I try and tell people that I have so much pride in Hopewell, both the sports and in the community in general,” said Yurcina. “I love seeing the community succeed, I love watching all the sports programs succeed. It brings everyone together. Sports is a major community builder for the younger crowd but also the older, retired families. You look at the football stands, basketball stands, baseball, a lot of them don’t have kids involved and they come out because they want to see the kids succeed.”

“Hopewell is headed in a really good direction now. I’m just proud to be from Hopewell and I’m just glad that I’m going to be able to see it happen.”

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