A St. Vincent graduate and one of the top players to ever suit up for the Bearcats on the gridiron, Aaron Smetanka has been named St. Vincent's head football coach.
He replaces Ron Dolciato, who was head coach for five seasons. The Bearcats were 1-9 in 2018.
"We are pleased to welcome Aaron to our coaching staff," said Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B., president of St. Vincent College. "He is an extraordinarily talented, enthusiastic and committed individual who bleeds green and gold, and we look forward to his contributions to the football team and the St. Vincent community as a whole."
"We have a young, energetic Saint Vincent alum who has the spirit and determination to take this program to a higher level," added athletic director Fr. Myron Kirsch, O.S.B.
Smetanka rewrote the record books during his career as the Bearcats' quarterback, before going on to play professionally for the Erie Explosion of the Continental Indoor Football League. Smetanka's coaching career began in 2012, and it includes a three-year stint as an assistant at St. Vincent, while he most recently has served as head coach at Greensburg Central Catholic High School for the past two seasons.
"I am honored and blessed to return to my alma mater as its head football coach," said Smetanka. "There were many great coaches that were interviewed for the head coaching position and I am very fortunate to have been selected. St. Vincent College is an exceptional academic institution, that has a great on campus community and terrific Benedictine values that are displayed by its student-athletes.
"I would like to thank Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, Br. Norman Hipps, Fr. Myron Kirsch and all of the administration for giving me the opportunity to be the head football coach at Saint Vincent," he added. "I look forward to working with them as well as the players and coaching staff to make this a great football program. Go Bearcats!"
A two-year starter under center for the Bearcats (2010-11), Smetanka remains the program's modern-day career record-holder in passing yards (4,117), attempts (536), completions (331), and touchdown passes (31). Voted the team's offensive most valuable player in both 2010 and 2011, Smetanka was also a First Team All-Presidents' Athletic Conference selection in each season. As a senior and team co-captain in 2011, Smetanka led the Bearcats to their most successful season since the team's rebirth, as they went 6-4 in the regular season and qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference's Southwest Bowl. In 2014, Smetanka was named to the PAC's 60th Anniversary All-Time Team, which recognized the top football players in the conference's long history.
After graduating from SVC, Smetanka began his coaching career as the quarterback coach at Peters Township High School for the 2012 season. Following a one-year stint, he returned to his alma mater to join the Bearcat coaching staff as quarterback coach, a position he held for three seasons. Smetanka held a variety of responsibilities in this role, as in addition to coaching the team's quarterbacks, he was heavily involved in recruiting, scouting, and breakdown of game film, while also providing positive guidance and mentorship to the Bearcat players.
During his first stint on the St. Vincent staff, Smetanka also starred under center for the Erie Explosion from 2013-14. As a rookie in 2013, he guided the team to a perfect 10-0 record and the CIFL title. A year later, Smetanka was named the Continental Indoor Football League's Offensive Player of the Year, leading the Explosion to a 9-2 record and their second consecutive league championship.
After spending the 2016 season on the staff at Chartiers Valley as passing game coordinator and quarterback coach, Smetanka was named the head coach of Greensburg Central Catholic in January 2017. He oversaw all aspects of the Centurion football program, as in addition to his head coaching role, he coordinated both the offense and special teams, while also serving as quarterback coach, strength and conditioning coach and equipment manager. During his time at GCC, a total of 21 Centurions were named all-conference, while his teams boasted a grade point average of 3.32, including a 3.51 mark over the recently-completed 2018 season.
In addition to his coaching experience, Smetanka has been a coach and speaker for the Coaching Boys into Men program for the past two years, an initiative aimed at promoting healthy relationships, building leadership skills and decreasing violence among high school boys. Smetanka was chosen as a featured speaker at the 2018 Coaching Boys into Men Summit, and was named the national MVP Coach of the Year, earning recognition from the United Way in its 2018 annual report.
A native of Allison Park, Pennsylvania, Smetanka earned a bachelor's degree in business management from St. Vincent's McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government.