Tim Sweeney named the new football coach of Baldwin High School


Photo provided by Tim Sweeney

After a successful career at Derry High, football coach Tim Sweeney has been named the new football coach for Baldwin High School.

Growing up in the 1970s in Western Pennsylvania, Baldwin’s new football coach, Tim Sweeney, grew to love the game thanks in part to the Steelers’ dynasty led by Coach Chuck Noll.

“I’ve always had a passion for football, and I grew up loving that entire team,” Sweeney said. “Watching them, I wanted to be Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mean Joe Greene. I wanted to be all those guys.”

After playing high school football at Derry Area High School in Westmoreland County, Sweeney played at Penn State under Coach Joe Paterno, where he won a national championship in 1986, his sophomore year. Following college, Sweeney started a business in Latrobe, but always wanted to get involved in coaching.

In 2006, Sweeney began a stint as a volunteer coach at his high school alma mater. Then after several years doing sports media work in State College, he came back to take the reins at Derry Area as head coach in 2013. The Derry team had been a bottom-dweller, having posted a 0-10 record the year before and having been winless in its past 18 games overall. 

Progressively the program would get better, and in 2016 the team finished with an undefeated regular season record and made the playoffs. The turnaround was notable, but Sweeney said his players were the ones who made it happen.

“The credit goes to the players, and them buying into what we were teaching and coaching,” Sweeney said. 

Now just two years removed from a trip to Heinz Field for the 3A title game with the Derry Area Trojans, Sweeney is coming to coach the Fighting Highlanders. 

Baldwin had a 5-6 record last season, which resulted in the team’s first playoff berth since 2013. Baldwin’s coach the past three seasons was Loran Cooley, who has taken an assistant coaching job at Westminster College in New Wilmington. 

When the Baldwin head coach vacancy opened, Sweeney said, applying for the job made sense for him and his family.

“We live in Bethel Park, and I was traveling an hour or an hour and a half to work every day. My son is 4 years old now and I still want to be around and be a dad,” Sweeney said. “When the opportunity presented itself at Baldwin, I knew that’d be a great opportunity for us.”

Athletic Coordinator John Saras said he was excited to have Sweeney on board and looking to build off of a program that has already been put in place.

“Coach Sweeney preaches defense, he preaches running the football, and he preaches hard-nosed football,” Saras said. “Coach Cooley set the foundation. I think Coach Sweeney is going to take it to the next level.”

Principal Shaun Tomaszewski, who was also involved in the hiring process, said he was impressed by what Sweeney can bring to the program.

He cares about every kid in the school, every kid’s family, and his players are his brothers.”

— Asst. Coach Garry Tom

“His successes in fostering a positive culture for student athletes is something that really impressed me,” Tomaszewski said. “I could tell that his expectations are incredibly high for his players both on and off the field.”

Saras agreed.

“His resume spoke for itself on the field, but his work off the field in terms of discipline, accountability, academics, and community outreach spoke volumes,” Saras said. “He had the entire package and checked all the boxes not only on the field but off the field.”

Garry Tom, an assistant coach for Sweeney since 2014 at Derry, will be making the jump to Baldwin as well. Tom, who also coached alongside Cooley at Gateway High School, said both coaches are known for being high-character individuals. 

“He cares about more than just football,” Tom said. “He cares about every kid in the school, every kid’s family, and his players are his brothers.” 

Junior Maisen Bourquin said he is excited to work with Sweeney.

“I know his past seasons with Derry Area went very well, and I expect that in our first year together we will follow in the footsteps of the last team he coached and have a great season,” Bourquin said. 

Sweeney and Tom are hoping they will be able to meet with the team as soon as possible, though the state quarantine has made that tough. Sweeney said he cannot wait to be face-to-face with the team.

“I want to be able to set the tone for the team, and I just can’t wait to get in front of these kids and get to work,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney has described his style of play as being hard-nosed but with class, noting that discipline and the way a team carries itself on and off the field is key to success. The connection between the football team and the community has always been something that he has valued, and Sweeney intends to bring that belief to his new community.

“We’re blessed to be able to coach and play football, but we care about all those people who watch as well,” Sweeney said. “We want fans. We want people to jump on our bandwagon. Our fans and people in the community are important to us.”

With the difficult circumstances surrounding the school year because of the COVID-19 virus, Sweeney said he is going to focus on what he was brought to Baldwin to do, and prepare for next season in any creative ways the team can.

“It’s going to be a wait-and-see process, but we have to embrace whatever challenge is ahead of us and realize there are no excuses,” Sweeney said.