ROTTERDAM — A familiar and respected figure in Rotterdam athletics has rejoined the Mohonasen High School coaching staff.
John Gallo, who excelled as a multi-sport athlete at Mohonasen and later worked there and at nearby Schalmont, was introduced Thursday evening as the Mighty Warriors’ new varsity football coach.
Gallo was approved for the position he previously held from 1988-91 at Monday’s school board meeting.
“This was the only job, if it became available, that I wanted to do,” the 56-year-old Gallo said. “The pieces came together. This is the place where I grew up, and I want to give my effort and energy to this community.”
Gallo set football and wrestling records while a student-athlete at Mohonasen, and led its football team to a 20-14-2 record in his first coaching stint there, which included a pair of 6-3 seasons. He also served as Mohonasen’s football defensive coordinator before that.
“I’ve always enjoyed coaching the Mohonasen kid because of their grittiness and toughness,” said Gallo, who was among the first class inducted into the Mohonasen Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. “When the opportunity came up, the people that I am closest to said, ‘Of course.’ ”
Gallo’s son, Vince, is the varsity wrestling coach at Schalmont. Vince Gallo was hired by his dad when the elder Gallo was serving as Schalmont’s athletic director. John Gallo served in that capacity from 2004-18 before retiring, but kept his hand in scholastic football as a line coach the past two seasons at La Salle Institute.
“He was getting calls the last five years,” said Gallo’s son, Nick, a recent graduate of the University of Buffalo. “He only wanted to coach here. He’s 110 percent ready.”
“I have 30-plus year of experience in the high school game. Organization, effort and energy is what I bring. I am not a clock watcher,” John Gallo said. “They [his players] will know they have myself and my staff in their corner. We’ll be all in.”
Following his graduation from Springfield College, Gallo taught social studies and filled several administrative roles in a decorated career in education, which began at Draper in 1985 and moved to Mohonasen when the schools merged the following year. His first coaching duties were as Draper’s defensive coordinator in football and its head wrestling coach. He later led varsity football and wrestling teams at Mohonasen, La Salle, where he worked from 1992-96, and at Schalmont.
At La Salle, he started the wrestling program and guided the Cadets football team to a Super Bowl appearance in 1994. At Schalmont, three of his wrestling teams had unbeaten seasons.
“You just don’t see a resume like that,” said Shannon Shine, Mohonasen’s superintendent of schools. “This is not your average coach hiring situation. We’re delighted to have him.”
“We’re excited to have John aboard,” Mohonasen athletic director Dave Austin said. “This is an opportunity for a recharge.”
Gallo said he wants to build off two season-ending wins Mohonasen earned this past campaign under former coach Joe Emma. Mohonasen, which competes in Section II’s Class A league, went 3-6 this past season and 4-5 in Emma’s first year in 2018.
“You want to win, absolutely, but we’re about developing well-round citizens, and he [Gallo] will bring that,” Shine said. “He is here for the right reasons, and he will connect with them. I believe they’ll perform for him in and out of the classroom.”