SALAMANCA — In short, Chad Bartoszek thought the timing was right.
After six years of working to establish a consistent football winner while working at Ellicottville High School, the last five of them leading the merged Franklinville/Ellicottville Titans, Bartoszek accepted a chance to return home. Officially resigning his duties at Ellicottville at the end of May, he began a new job at Salamanca High School this month as a physical education teacher, assistant athletic director and varsity football coach.
In a sense, the Salamanca native was already home. Bartoszek and his family lived in the district while he worked at neighboring Ellicottville.
“There was just some communication going on between Salamanca and myself and I live in district and I have a lot of family members and friends who still live in district and their kids still go to Salamanca,” Bartoszek told The Salamanca Press of his decision to accept Salamanca’s offer. “There was still a little bit of that communication amongst the people that I’m around. As much of a difficult transition these types of moves can be, there was still an urge to come back and coach the football team here. I never thought that that would become a reality. But the way things went down, it ended up working out.”
In turn, former Salamanca coach Jason Marsh, an assistant for the last two years at F/E, has been hired as the Titans’ next head coach.
Bartoszek called the decision to leave Ellicottville, where his football teams went a combined 41-16 including a Section 6 Class D championship in 2015, “professionally the hardest thing I’ve ever done, for sure.”
“I created some pretty strong bonds and I know as adults and coworkers, they understand,” he said. “When you work in public education there’s usually not a ton of movement especially schools so close. But the kids, that’s just something that was difficult for me to explain. There’s not always a great explanation for everything, but I was hopeful that my years there created some form of positive impact on their lives and I do root for them and wish them the best. Especially when we brought those teams together (in 2014), that was really a source of pride for myself and the rest of the coaches there.”
After playing for longtime Salamanca coach George Whitcher in the late 1990s, Bartoszek went on to a Division I career at tight end for the University at Buffalo and played in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts. As his life turned to coaching and teaching in the Southern Tier, Bartoszek acknowledged the allure of Salamanca football remained, but said his focus was always on the students he works with.
“You get into this profession, you’re really there to work and empower and make the student-athletes better,” he said. “Honestly, whenever I’m at a school, I feel the necessity, the need to try to improve those around me, to try to make football players into good, quality student-athletes. Even when I was with Portville (as an assistant coach) and with Franklinville/Ellicottville, that was 100 percent of my commitment.”
Bartoszek, 37, hopes his sons, ages seven and five, both play football and he thinks about the possibility of coaching them one day.
“Being from here and living in district, still living here, was something that I had — I don’t want to call it a sense of duty but — some sort of draw to want to come back and just do a good job,” he added. “I figured I’m still young enough where I feel like I have the energy and the drive, but I feel more experienced now than I’ve ever been. I feel like I’ve been through a lot of things. My kids are young enough where we wanted to make a decision to switch when they were younger so we didn’t put them in any situations that would be tricky for them. But yeah, there’s just a draw. There’s something about it. Family and friends had a lot to do with that as well as a sense of community in general.”
He’ll have plenty of help on the Warriors’ coaching staff, including former Allegany-Limestone coach Paul Furlong, who joins Bartoszek as an assistant coach after his hiring as a Salamanca phys ed teacher. Paul Haley, Bartoszek’s predecessor as varsity head coach, returns to the staff as a varsity assistant and J.V. head coach. Others on staff include Aaron Hill and Dustin Ross on varsity and Seth Hostuttler, Travis Happoldt, Jerry Parisi and Ray Haley on J.V.
The team started “optional team activities” with a 7-on-7 tournament at Southwestern last Friday. The Warriors’ coached met prospective players and their parents at an informational meeting on Monday.
“Having that staff is going to create some challenging times in terms of we want to make sure that we’re using all our assets properly,” Bartoszek said. “A part of that is going to start (Monday) with our kids and getting our numbers to a healthy place. I think when you have a healthy number of football players and when you have a number of coaches that means that each kid is going to get more individualized coaching.
“I think that’s something that we can separate ourselves from other programs. We’re going to be able to provide that extra layer of skill-building and coaching technique and just have our kids getting more out of practice. As a parent and somebody in the community, I think that’s an allure for them to know that there’s going to be plenty of eyes on them and plenty of highly qualified coaches continuously working with their kids.”