Friday, May 27, 2011

Long-time basketball coach Traynor dies

When the WPIAL released its basketball playoff pairings, one preliminary-round game that drew an unusual amount of attention was Trinity's Class AAA contest against Mt. Pleasant.

The matchup was not attractive because of competitiveness - Trinity put together a strong season behind Josh Valentic, while Mt. Pleasant was lucky to be in the playoffs. What drew attention - and a standing ovation from coaches and administrators - was Mt. Pleasant coach Tom Traynor.

A former basketball coach at Pitt-Johnstown and Hempfield, Traynor was preparing for his last postseason appearance with Mt. Pleasant, culminating a 49-year coaching career. Traynor had previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the game against Trinity would be his last.

Fittingly, Traynor and Trinity head coach Joe Dunn were long-time friends and I had the honor of doing a preview on the game, mostly on the unique relationship between the two. (As soon as I can locate the link, I will post it.)

No doubt Dunn is saddened by the death of his good friend Traynor, who died Thursday night. He was 70.

On a personal note, I covered the Trinity-Mt. Pleasant game and, after interviewing Dunn and Valentic, I tracked down Traynor outside the Vikings locker room at Belle Vernon High School. It was Traynor's final post-game interview, and, at the conclusion, he looked me directly in the eye, shook my head and thanked me for the story about him and Coach Dunn. I walked away with a feeling of pride that a man of such high character took the time to acknowledge my work.

For more on Traynor, Read Mike White's story from today's Post-Gazette web site.

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