Jerry Magistro Takes Over As Martins Ferry Softball Coach

MARTINS FERRY — When the high school softball season rolls around next spring, Jerry Magistro will be entering his 20th season as a head coach. However, after donning the Green and White of St. John Central as he has for the past 19 years, he will be switching to Purple and White.

The 66-year-old Magistro was recently named head coach of the Martins Ferry program, replacing Paige Williams who was there for 10 campaigns.

“I’m excited about this opportunity. I feel that I gave St. John Central everything I had for 19 years,” Magistro, who has more than 300 victories and 131 losses, said. “I stayed loyal to them until they closed the school.

“The people up here have done nothing but make me feel at home. Anything I’ve asked of them they’ve given me so far. The kids I’ve met in the workouts have been really cooperative. I think we have a nice group of kids, not a bunch of seniors, but quality ones. We’ve also got a good group of sophomores and some juniors. That’s not counting the freshmen we have coming in.

“One thing I will do. I will put my heart and soul into everything I do. I will do teaching and coaching and not just teaching kids to play softball, but preparing them for the rest of their lives. Having a big family of my own, kids and grandkids, family values are really important to me. That’s one thing I’m proud of myself for, trying to be a good role model.”

The Purple Riders lost some quality seniors, including standout pitcher Abby Bumbico.

“She was one of the better players in the valley last season,” he acknowledged. “I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far.”

But the cupboard is far from bare for the squad that went 13-13 before bowing to Garaway in the Division III district finals in Cambridge.

“Our sophomores-to-be got a lot of valuable experience last year as freshmen,” he said. “There’s nothing better than game experience and they played in a lot of big games last year. That can only help us down the road.”

Magistro’s Irish teams won 10 OVAC Class A championships, 13 Division IV sectional titles out of 17 (they were ineligible to compete the past two seasons due to OHSAA sanctions against the school) and made one regional tournament appearance, that coming in 2005.

“We probably should have won the state that year. We lost in regional finals in extra innings to Strasburg,” he recalled. “We had some great teams. We had some teams back then that were as good as any team in the Ohio Valley. We beat John Glenn two years in a row and they went to the (D-II) regional finals both years. Those were probably two of the better teams we had at SJC. There were probably 6-8 teams that were legit teams. We could’ve won the state with two or three of them.”

So far so good, according to the veteran mentor.

“I haven’t really had to make any big adjustments. Not yet, but it will probably come,” he allowed. “Right now it is the number of kids. I’m not used to having a lot of kids, but we did have a jayvee team back in the day at St. John. My goal right now, I guess we’re getting a lot more kids coming out, is to have a jayvee. I’m seeing about 21 kids. When you have that many, it’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing.

“The last couple of years at St. John we had to play whoever we had. We didn’t have the luxury of a lot of kids, but I don’t like to see kids sit. You aren’t learning anything sitting on the bench. I think we need to have a reserve team. If you don’t do that, you’re only hurting yourself down the road. Sitting around isn’t getting you any better.”

As far as a varsity staff, Curt Mele is on board.

“Everything else is not certain right now. We’ve been friends for years and always played against each other,” Magistro said of Mele. “We’ve always wanted to coach together and now we have the opportunity.”

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