After 13 football seasons, Coyle leaves Judge for PC

Last­ing im­pres­sion: Tom Coyle, seen here with seni­ors Brandon Spatz (left) and Vince LoStracco at their Feb­ru­ary sign­ing ce­re­mony, de­par­ted Fath­er Judge after 13 sea­sons to take the head coach­ing job at Penn Charter.

For Tom Coyle, it was the hard­est of de­cisions: stay at a place he’s loved since 2000, or leave for an­oth­er job that would al­low him to spend more time with his chil­dren.

On Thursday, Coyle chose the lat­ter, de­part­ing as the head foot­ball coach at Fath­er Judge, his alma ma­ter (Class of 1987).

He ac­cep­ted the same po­s­i­tion at Penn Charter, an aca­dem­ic and ath­let­ics power­house in the city’s East Falls sec­tion. Not only did the move al­low Coyle to come full circle to where his high school coach­ing ca­reer star­ted (he was Penn Charter’s de­fens­ive co­ordin­at­or from 1987-2000), but it will also give him more time with his son and daugh­ter, who are second and fourth graders at Penn Charter.

“When you coach, the down­side is that your time is very lim­ited and you don’t get a chance to see your own chil­dren,” Coyle said. “Most of that has fallen on my wife to this point. Now, I get to drive them in every day and catch some of the things I’ve been miss­ing. The way I look at it, I’m leav­ing one great place with great people for an­oth­er. I con­sider my­self for­tu­nate to be en­ter­ing my 27th sea­son as a coach in two great places. I’m very blessed.”

Be­cause of his his­tory at Penn Charter, which par­ti­cip­ates in the six-team Inter-Aca­dem­ic League, Coyle’s name has been con­nec­ted to the job be­fore; pre­de­cessor Jeff Humble stepped down from the po­s­i­tion in early Decem­ber, and Coyle was PC’s guy. But leav­ing Judge for the school re­spons­ible for pro­du­cing At­lanta Fal­cons su­per­star Matt Ry­an was any­thing but easy.

“The most dif­fi­cult part was say­ing good­bye to the kids, as well as the as­sist­ants that have sac­ri­ficed so much of their time over the years,” he said. “I’ll be their biggest fan next year, and it presents a tre­mend­ous op­por­tun­ity for someone else to come in there to con­tin­ue win­ning foot­ball games.”

Coyle, who went 73-77 in his 13 sea­sons at Judge, made his fi­nal sea­son as a Cru­sader a mem­or­able one in tak­ing the en­tire team to Ire­land to open its 2012 sea­son. 

“I got to drive to work every day and come to the best school in the Cath­ol­ic League,” Coyle said. “There were plenty of ups and plenty of downs, but we al­ways took tre­mend­ous pride in the way these young men rep­res­en­ted their school and their neigh­bor­hood. We’ve been through it all to­geth­er, and I can walk out of there with my head held high.”

Judge ath­let­ic dir­ect­or Ed Evan­it­sky told the North­east Times in an e-mail last week that the school would im­me­di­ately be­gin look­ing for its next coach, but that there was no timetable for hir­ing Coyle’s suc­cessor. 

Either way, Coyle thinks the Cru­saders will be in good hands without him. He singled out the re­turn of Mar­quis Sea­mon, Samir Bul­lock, Joe Nig­ro and Tom Bay­er as cata­lysts for the pro­gram’s bright fu­ture.

Over­all, Coyle soun­ded com­fort­able in his de­cision. He’s ex­cited for the next chapter of his ca­reer, and also finds com­fort in the 13 years of memor­ies at Judge that will en­sure he will al­ways be a part of the school’s rich his­tory.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to use the ex­per­i­ence to bet­ter kids’ lives,” he said. “I just want to make each place a little bit bet­ter. It’s been a neat ex­per­i­ence at Judge, and I can’t wait to be a part of things at Penn Charter. The people at both places have just been won­der­ful.” ••

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