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Tkach to be inducted into PA Football Coaches Hall of Fame

  • Jim Tkach will be inducted into the PA High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame this weekend.
    Jim Tkach will be inducted into the PA High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame this weekend.
Published June 15. 2010 05:00PM

Jim Tkach has spent time on the sidelines coaching in the Big 33 Classic and has been involved with the Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association for years.

He'll be heading for Hershey again at the end of this week, this time to be honored by his peers.

Tkach will be inducted into the 2010 Pennsylvania Football Coaches Hall of Fame on Friday at induction ceremonies starting at 10 a.m. at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.

He will be introduced for induction by his son Ty and daughter Tristin.

Tkach will be one of six coaches to be included in the PFSCA Hall of Fame Class of 2010. This brings the total to 238 coaches included since 1986.

"It's never really anything I've thought about," Tkach said when asked about the honor. "This is a thank you for my mentors, Frank Girardi who coached me at Lycoming, John Whitehead, who taught me a lot when I was on his staff at Lehigh, as well as coaches Mike Williams (Manheim Central) and Stan Dakosty (Marian).

"It's really kind of strange. I was taken by surprise. I know my Dad wou;d have really been excited. He's the one that taught me to love the game of football.

"I remember going to Lehighton Knee-Hi practice at 6th and Coal St. in Lehighton when my Uncle Steve coached. My Uncle George was a long-time PIAA football official and would always take my cousin Bernie and I to games. And then my Uncle Mike (Ebbert) taught me a lot of things about the game when he was head coach at Lehighton.

"One of the things Coach Whitehead drilled into me was always keep the kids in the forefront. I was fortunate to have good assistant coaches like Joe Tout (Tkach's successor at No. Lehigh) and Sam Bonner (Tamaqua head coach) who have gone on to build good programs. And then to have guys like Steve Hluschak, Manny Guedes and Glenn Serfass who live and die for the kids and the game was also a blessing."

Tkach is a graduate of Lehighton Area High School where he played football, basketball and baseball. He was named All Lehigh Valley League in football and Honorable Mention All-State.

Tkach graduated from Lycoming College where he was a four-year starter, captain and was All-East selection.

His coaching career started at Palmerton High School in 1978 serving as an assistant and three years as a head coach. In 1981, Tkach was hired as a strength coach and assistant football coach by John Whitehead at Lehigh University, serving two years as a linebacker coach and one as the offensive backfield mentor. While at Lehigh, he coached two National Strength Coach Association All-Americans.

In 1990, he was hired by Sports Medicine Lehigh Valley as a Strength Coach and Public Speaker.

Tkach returned to coaching in 1992 at Northern Lehigh taking over a program without a winning season since 1981. Over the next 14 years, Northern Lehigh teams were Colonial League champions four times and District 11 Champions twice. They appeared in the Eastern Pennsylvania Finals twice and in the state finals in 2003.

"When I took over at Northern Lehigh, Coach Whitehead told me that my job was to bring a respectable football program to this town and I think I did that. His son Walt and I stay very close today."

Tkach was named Colonial League Coach of the Year four times, District 11 Coach of the Year in 2003 and Associated Press Small School Coach of the Year for Pennsylvania in 2003.

Tkach was inducted into the Lehigh Valley McDonald's Hall of Fame in 2003, Lycoming College Hall of Fame, and named Football Ambassador of the Year in 2004.

He is the Director of the Nike Eastern Pennsylvania Coach of the Year Football Clinic. For the past three year, Tkach had been a volunteer at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, and part of the four-A state championship team. He is returning to Joe Tout's staff at Northern Lehigh this year as a volunteer assistant

In addition, he and his wife Sandi serve as speakers for the University of Michigan Depression Center and the Bo Tkach Memorial. Jim has been married to his wife Sandi for 32 years, his other son Ty is a defensive lineman at the University of Pittsburgh working on his Master's Degree and daughter Tristin is a graduate of Wilkes University and teaches elementary school in Woodbridge, Delaware.

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