By Greg Gulas
After spending 50 years in multiple roles on the local athletics scene, Joe Mogulich is calling it quits.
A longtime ticket manager and athletic director at Struthers High School, Mogulich spent the past 15 years as secretary-treasurer of the Mahoning Valley Conference (20014-08) and most recently the All-American Conference (2008-19).
He said working with former commissioner Clem Zumpella and current AAC head Rick King has been a labor of love, reminding him of a closeness that existed among teammates when he played football for the late John Hudzik and Denny Barrett at Cardinal Mooney High School.
“Clem and Rick are the two of the very best commissioners around,” he said. “Both were passionate about their conference and leaders who truly cared about their teams and the many sports that were offered.
“I was proud to bring organization to both leagues and took pride in providing paperwork for the monies that we generated. As a league and even during my time as ticket manager and athletic director at Struthers, I took pride in making sure that everything worked out as reported and was acceptable to the OHSAA when submitted.”
King said Mogulich made local high school athletes a priority.
“During his tenure as secretary-treasurer of the AAC, Joe demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the student-athletes of the Mahoning Valley, King said. “His goal was very simple. It was his responsibility to provide our student-athletes with the best resources available to recognize our athletes, our teams and their communities. He was steadfast in his dedication to recognizing all of the award winners and providing our student-athletes the opportunity to compete in the best available venues.
“He will be remembered for his dedication, his commitment and his belief in the importance of high school athletics.”
Born on the city’s South Side, he earned three letters as a fullback for the Cardinals — he also ran track, earning two more letters where he competed in sprints, relays and the broad jump — helping CMHS to its first two City Series titles and a 17-2 overall mark.
He was a unanimous all-City Series selection as a junior and senior, also earning all-Northeastern Ohio and all-Diocesan the same two seasons. An all-state honorable mention selection as a junior, he was third-team all-state as a senior.
“Our only two losses came at the hands of non-league foes,” he said. “We lost 6-0 to Canton Central Catholic my junior year, a team that boasted former Notre Dame and Minnesota Vikings star Alan Page.
“My senior season, Niles McKinley beat us 16-6 at Rayen Stadium. They were a team that featured the great Bo Rein and went on to win the mythical state championship that year.”
A 1994 inductee into the Cardinal Mooney Athletics Hall of Fame, Mogulich said Hudzik and Barrett helped mold him athletically.
“We had an excellent football team, but no one gave us a chance to win anything, yet alone two straight league championships,” Mogulich said. “The whole team was friends and on weekends we all hung out together. In the summer we worked out on our own and that set the tone of our season.
“Guys like Duke Colaprete, Tom Detesco, Jim Hallren, Tony Tocco, John Horney, Ray Repasky and Joe Minotti were excellent leaders. We also had Ray Sattler, who in my humble opinion was the very best overall athlete ever to come out of Cardinal Mooney.”
Mogulich earned a full scholarship to the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., played on the Hurricanes’ freshman team where he helped his coach and former University of Kentucky mentor Fran Curci, to a 4-0 mark.
A blood disorder curtailed Mogulich’s college career after just one season and he returned home and earned his BS in education from then-Youngstown University and an MA in education from Kent State.
“I wanted to become a coach and the only way you could do that back then was if you were a teacher,” he said. “I did my student teaching at Struthers in 1968, helped coach their ninth-grade team and was hired to teach at the high school in the fall of 1969. I spent 35 great years in the Struthers school system and have nothing but great memories.”
In addition to multiple assistant coaching positions, Mogulich served as the Wildcats’ head football coach (1974-76), head track coach (1972-74), head girls softball coach (1981-87) and head baseball coach (1988-91).
He was the school’s ticket director from 1982-2004 and athletic director from 1994-2004.
“You have to have fun in life and I had a lot of fun,” he said. “I taught physical education at several levels, implemented several new programs and the classes were fun and competitive.
“I made a ton of great friends — friends I would never have made had it not been for my association with athletics. Being involved with the great people of Struthers and the administrators I worked with also provided special memories.
“I prided myself in the fact that no matter where we went, we dressed and traveled in a first-class manner. I have six grandchildren and now my wife of 32 years, Carol, and I will be watching them play sports. I’m the luckiest guy that I know and if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the very same way.”