Sports have followed Linda Magliocca all her life.
The former Union High standout took the lessons she learned on the sandlots and the hardwood of Lawrence County and applied it to the Virginia classrooms she presided over.
“Sports shaped my whole life,” said the 55-year-old The Villages, Fla., resident and former Montrose Elementary School administrator. “As a principal, I always talked about ‘The Team.’ I always related my work and how we functioned at school around it. I always told the kids ‘You’re the players. I just manage the team. We can’t play it for you. You have to go play the game.’ It was a push for academics and the development of character. It’s led my life.”
ENTERING THE HALL
Sports will serve as the impetus to bring Magliocca “home” when she is inducted into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame on May 4 at the New Englander.
“I never knew it existed,” she said. “I moved away early in life. I left New Castle after college, because I wanted to be a teacher and there were no jobs.
“When I got the letter, I was like ‘This is kind of neat. I wonder how these people got all this information about me?’ I thought it was an honor. They wanted to induct me last year, but I couldn’t come because of a conflict with my job.”
Magliocca left her mark in girls athletics at Union.
“She was a competitor; she had the drive to win,” said Magliocca’s former Polish Falcons teammate Laurie Lidak. “It was a competitor’s edge. She set the bar high for the girls following in her footsteps.”
A TREND SETTER
During her younger days, the opportunity wasn’t there to play basketball at the middle school level, so she took matters into her own hands.
In 1972, Magliocca penned a letter to the Union Area School Board asking for girls basketball to be instituted for eighth, ninth and 10th grades.
“She was a pioneer for girls athletics in her school,” said Lidak, who is a New Castle High graduate. “I’d put her right up there with other women in her school or other schools since she got the ball rolling. She wanted something more for girls in middle school. She had a lot to do with sports starting at a younger age. How many elementary kids could do that?”
Magliocca just wanted a level playing field.
“Personally, I wanted to play,” she said. “I felt girls should have the same opportunity as boys to play sports. It was a big deal to me, because I really wanted to play. We had the rec. league, but I felt like the boys can play why can’t we play?
“I was a little nervous about it. I was more reserved back then. I was kind of shy except on the ballfield. I wasn’t reserved there.”
Magliocca excelled on the hardwood, earning four letters and leading the Lady Scots to three-straight 10-0 Tri-County League records and a spot in the league playoffs.
As a junior, she set the school’s single-game scoring record with 33 points and averaged 20.9 points a game, which afforded her first-team all-Section 21-AA honors along with the section’s MVP award.
She reached double figures in scoring in nine of 10 section games as a senior and also served as a facilitator, averaging eight assists that year.
“We were the team to be beaten at that point,” Magliocca said. “We felt some pressure. I remember playing Laurel at Laurel and being behind. I remember thinking ‘We can’t lose this game!’ We had beaten teams pretty decisively up to that point, but that game there wasn’t much time left. We were able to barely come back and beat them at the very end.”
HER TRUE PASSION
Despite all her successes on the hardwood, her passion rested with softball.
“Softball was probably my favorite sport, but it had more to do with the camaraderie of the teams that I played for,” Magliocca said. “I could do almost everything in softball. I had a great arm.”
She earned a Golden Glove Award in 1975 while playing for Dick Hutchison in the Enon Valley Recreation league before winning a state championship with the Polish Falcons in 1977.
“She had a lot of range as a shortstop,” Lidak said. “There weren’t many balls that got past her. She had a great arm. If she wasn’t playing shortstop, she’d pitch and she was a good pitcher. She was a good batter and was fast on the bases. If you were picking an all-star team, she’d be participating in that.”
Magliocca enjoyed the atmosphere with the Polish Falcons.
“I joined the team when I was like 17 or 18,” Magliocca said. “That was a real family there. They welcomed you into the club like you were their daughter. They always came out to support you and invited you in for dinner. Everyone really cared for each other.”
Magliocca joined the track and field team since Union didn’t offer a softball team, specializing in the javelin.
Not surprisingly, her arm earned her a school record when she uncorked a throw of 120-6 and eventually finished second in the WPIAL in the event.
“I did it initially to stay in shape for my other sports,” Magliocca said. “A lot of my success had to do with training. I did some racing, too, but it wasn’t my specialty. They’d throw me in to get some points. It wasn’t something I had trained for.
“I hurt my arm my junior year throwing the javelin, so I don’t feel I did as well my senior year. I can remember being very disappointed. To this day, I have to wrap my arm when I’m doing any kind of sports. It’s been a life-long injury.”
Tomorrow: Bob Perrotta