Assistant men’s soccer coach dies at age 35

The Gannon University men’s soccer team suffered its most difficult loss Friday when assistant coach John T. Koscelnik, 35, died at his Erie home.

(Erie Times-News)
(Erie Times-News) Former men's assistant soccer coach John T. Koscelnik

Koscelnik, who was in his first season of coaching at Gannon, had a strong relationship with many on the team.

“It’s eating me up inside. It’s killing me,” said starting goalie Michael Kickel, who knew him since elementary school. “A lot of the guys looked up to him. He was one of the best goalkeeper coaches in the state.”

According to Kickel, Koscelnik played a major role in his development as a goalie.

“I was taught everything I know about being a goalkeeper from ‘Kos,’” he said. “If anyone on the team had a question, they’d go to him for information.”

Koscelnik also coached at Villa Maria, St. George, Walnut Creek and McDowell schools. He graduated from St. George and Cathedral Prep before attending St. Bonaventure University.

“It was sudden – surprising,” said junior midfielder and Erie native Ross Mathews. “We were really close. He was a friend and more than just a soccer coach.”

Koscelnik is the son of Tom and Madge Koscelnik and survived by four siblings –  brothers Thomas and Timothy Koscelnik and sisters Valarie Koscelnik and Carolyn Short.

Coach Rob van Rheenen said that although it was Koscelnik’s first season, he had already made an impact on the program.

“He worked well,” van Rheenen said. “It’s sad to see something happen to someone young like that.”

Under Koscelnik’s guidance, Gannon goalkeepers posted a 1.42 goals-against-average. Kickel and freshman Justin Barbarino combined to give the Knights five shutouts on the season, including a streak of three in a row  in September.

 Memorial contributions may be made to the St. George School Tuition Angel Fund or the Humane Society.

ZACK MCDERMOTT

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