Coach­ing will al­ways be in Larry Pinto’s DNA

Re­tired head coach will re­main on May­field staff an as­sis­tant

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - Mark Podol­ski

In base­ball terms, Larry Pinto is round­ing third and head­ing for home.

For any­one who knows Pinto, base­ball isn’t his spe­cial­ity. It’s foot­ball, es­pe­cially the point of at­tack at the line of scrim­mage.

It’s no sur­prise Pinto was in his el­e­ment coach­ing up the big guys up front for the White team June 12 at May­field’s Wild­cat Sta­dium in prepa­ra­tion for the June 17 News-Her­ald Se­nior Bowl. “He’s al­ways fired up,” said White team de­fen­sive line­man Zach Rod­man of May­field. “There’s no plays off with him. He’s al­ways fired up, go­ing 100 per­cent.”

Pinto will be an as­sis­tant for the White team that’s headed by Cha­grin Falls coach Mark Iam­marino.

Pinto used to call him­self a head coach for 18 sea­sons at May­field.

That was be­fore he stepped down in Jan­uary, end­ing an era as the Wild­cats’ main foot­ball man that was mighty im­pres­sive.

As May­field head coach, Pinto was 138-64 with seven 10-win sea­sons, nine play­off ap­pear­ances, four con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships and three state fi­nal four ap­pear­ances.

Even though 18 years as a head coach was enough, coach­ing will never leave Pinto. That’s why he can’t walk away com­pletely. Pinto will re­main on the Wild­cats’ staff un­der new head coach Ross Bandiera as line coach. He will also re­turn as May­field High School phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher. He re­tired from that post in 2015, but the dis­trict re­hired him, at a lesser salary.

“I can’t see my­self any­where

else,” said Pinto af­ter prac­tice at Wild­cat Sta­dium June 12. “I love this place, I love the kids. The ad­min­is­tra­tion is great. The par­ents are won­der­ful. Ross is go­ing to do a great job. I want to work as hard for him as he did for me.”

While he’s May­field through and through, the de­mands of be­ing a head coach were some­thing Pinto said was enough. He loves foot­ball as much as any­one — Pinto has ei­ther played or coached foot­ball the last 46 sea­sons — but needed a break from one as­pect.

“When you’re the head coach, foot­ball’s on your mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, it’s a lit­tle less time,” said Pinto with a smile.

The tran­si­tion from head coach to as­sis­tant won’t be an is­sue for the laid-back Pinto, ei­ther.

“I can stand back in the shad­ows, ab­so­lutely,” said Pinto. “Some guys can’t do that. I can do that.”

He coaches his line­men with­out much fan­fare or at­ten­tion, and that‘s some­thing he re­ally can’t wait for next fall.

Pinto has al­ways been an of­fen­sive line­man or coached them. When he grad­u­ated from May­field in the 1980s, he at­tended Mount Union be­cause he wanted to con­tinue play­ing, and even­tu­ally be­came the first in his fam­ily to earn a de­gree.

He didn’t know what to do with it. His po­si­tion coach at Mount, North grad­u­ate Don Mont­gomery, and his par­ents rec­om­mended teach­ing and coach­ing. More than 30 years later, it’s proved to be great ad­vice, and it’s not over yet.

Pinto’s good buddy, Madi­son coach Tim Wil­lis, isn’t sur­prised he’s still in the coach­ing game. The two seem cut from the same cloth. Both spent time as long­time as­sis­tants be­fore get­ting head coach­ing jobs. Pinto coached un­der the likes of By­ron Mor­gan and Paglio at May­field; Wil­lis un­der Art Bort­nik at Madi­son.

“No. 1, it’s his work ethic,” said Wil­lis of Pinto’s suc­cess. “He put a lot of time in as as­sis­tant like me be­fore and I think that’s paid off for both of us.”

Pinto turns 54 on June 18, a day af­ter the Se­nior Bowl. He’s cel­e­brat­ing that day by working a May­field alumni golf out­ing in the morn­ing. Then he will at­tend a wed­ding in the evening. It’s only fit­ting the per­son get­ting mar­ried is a for­mer Wild­cats player un­der Pinto.

He makes no bones about it. May­field High School will for­ever pull him in, and foot­ball is the No. 1 rea­son.

“I don’t know what I’d do,” he said when asked if he went through with a full-blown re­tire­ment.” I love foot­ball.”

MICHAEL JOHN­SON - THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Larry Pinto, who re­tired as May­field coach in Jan­uary, chats with mem­bers of the White team dur­ing prac­tice for The News-Her­ald Se­nior Bowl on June 12 at May­field High School. The game is June 17. Check out a photo gallery from June 11 prac­tice at...

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