Excessive Faculty Soccer: Joe Gallagher Goes As Head Coach At Haverford Excessive | retire sports activities
Joe Gallagher had plans to return to his 30th season as Haverford High School head coach, despite the 2020 season being the most physically demanding of his long career due to a poor left hip, left knee and back.
“It was a really big fight to get through,” said Gallagher. “It got to the point, especially with my back, that it literally knocked me off my feet. I had a folding chair with me. I couldn’t stand for a long time. It restricted my mobility and was actually quite painful. “
Gallagher was planning a hip replacement, knee replacement, and back surgery for the off-season to come back for another year.
COVID-19 has changed these plans.
Gallagher said his hip replacement surgery was postponed three times before he finally underwent the procedure on February 15. He is due to have knee replacement surgery on May 17th and back surgery sometime in September.
Gallagher had replaced his left knee 10 years ago and replaced his left hip in 2016.
“I think the imbalance between my left and right sides made me walk like a penguin and that wasn’t good for my back,” said Gallagher. “I swore I wouldn’t spend another season grabbing a stool to get off my feet.”
Because of this, Gallagher, the third longest-running coach in Delaware County after Mike Ricci, 34, of Garnet Valley, 34, and Kevin Clancy, 30, of Strath Haven, decided to pursue a career and retire. He told Haverford boss Pete Donaghy of his decision last Thursday and informed the team a day later.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” said Gallagher. “It came out in time that I had to make a decision. It’s May and I want to give school time to do something in my absence to find someone. “
Gallagher said he made the decision to visit his older brother Frank, who played seven seasons in the NFL, during a trip to Clarkston, Michigan, the weekend before last.
“That was great,” said Gallagher. “I don’t see him that often. I drove back and forth with my wife (Karen) and it’s 9½ hours (one way) with stops in between. This driving time provided an opportunity to think about things. I realized that calling it a day couldn’t be a bad time. It could be the right time. I will be 66 years old in September. I’ve had a good run for 29 years. It was a great experience. “
Gallagher is a soccer player. He was an all-Delco lineman at the late St. James High, where he played in 1972 on the City Championship team (Philadelphia), considered one of the greatest teams in Catholic League history. He was a four year old starter in three positions at the University of Tennessee, where he spent two years as a student assistant with Johnny Majors after his playing career ended.
Returning home from Knoxville, Gallagher trained two seasons at St. James, five at Cardinal O’Hara, two at Conestoga and two at Williamson Trade School before being named head coach at Haverford in 1992.
Gallagher set a record of 177-152-2 in his nearly three decades at Haverford. He led the Fords to Central League titles in 1995 and 2015, and qualified for the District 1 tournament for six consecutive years from 2014-19. The 2019 team reached the Class 6A semifinals before falling to eventual champion Downingtown West.
Gallagher called his Haverford experience “just great” in a letter to the players, coaches and families.
“Most of all, I’ll miss the camaraderie, the relationship with the kids and coaches, all of those things,” said Gallagher. “The planning and all that other stuff didn’t seem like work.”
He’s excited to do some things he hasn’t been able to, like a Tennessee-Alabama soccer game that he’s never seen as a fan. He’s also looking forward to taking his former players on the sidelines of the annual Thanksgiving Day class with rival Upper Darby from Crosstown.
“This is without question one of the highlights of my Haverford years,” said Gallagher. “And I’ll join them this year. I will be there for you. It’s just going to be a slightly different role. “
A return to coaching is also out of the question.
“As soon as I’m fixed, I could come back and volunteer,” said Gallagher. “Just let me practice a position.”