The De La Salle Family is planning to honor recently retired varsity head football coach Paul Verska at a formal dinner for former players and football family members on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at Villa Penna’s, on Hayes in Sterling Heights. MAP Tickets are $50. ALL AGES ARE WELCOMED!
Verska, who led De La Salle Collegiate to three State Football Finals – including its first State Championship in 2014, announced his retirement on October 30. He had informed school officials prior to the season of his retirement plans.
“It’s time,” said Coach Verska. “I’m looking forward to playing golf and enjoying my grandchildren. I’m happy to have the freedom to plan vacations, and have time with family without having to work around practices and game schedules.” Coach Verska and his wife of 41 years, Kathy, have two children, Nick Verska (Meredith) and Kristen Lang (Mike), and three grandchildren, with another on the way.
One of the team’s captains, Senior Jordan Asbury said, “Paul Verska is a legend. I am so thankful and lucky to have played for him.”
The winningest coach in De La Salle’s history, with a 92 – 44 record, Coach Verska guided the Pilots to their first football State Championship in 2014 with a 44-8 win over Muskegon Mona Shores. His Pilot teams were also finalists in 2006 and 2008, losing both games to Muskegon. In his 14 years as head coach, he guided the Pilots to 11 state playoff appearances. Before his arrival, the Pilots had made one state playoff appearance in the school’s history.
During his tenure at DLS, the Pilots appeared in the CHSL’s Prep Bowl three times, and won the Prep Bowl Championship in 2008. He was inducted into the Catholic League Hall of Fame in 2009.
In his coaching career, Coach Verska has over 210 wins. He also took Ann Arbor Huron to the State Championship game. He was head coach at seven schools, and assistant coach at three.
DLS Principal Patrick Adams said, “We have been blessed with Paul Verska’s leadership. He has positively affected the lives of many students, and for that we are forever grateful. We know our football program is one of the best in the state because of him, but what truly stands out in his tenure here at De La Salle are the relationships he built with players, students, and colleagues. Paul’s influence will be the foundation for all good things to come in the future—both on and off the field.”
Athletic Director Brian Kelly noted Coach Verska’s impact. “Coach Verska changed the culture of the football program to a winning culture. His focus on hard work on and off the field, in the weight room and in the classroom, transformed the football program into one of the very best in the State of Michigan. The pride that the De La Salle community has in the accomplishments of the football team can be directly tied to the dedication and efforts of Paul and the fine staff he assembled. The program is on a solid foundation for many years to come because of the many great things Paul has done for the student-athletes and the De La Salle community.”
Coach Verska praised his staff. “When building a home, you start with a foundation. Mike Lewis and Mike Szatkowski have been with me for 14 seasons. Their hard work, dedication, and commitment have helped create and establish DLS as an elite football program in the state. We have been blessed to add to this foundation the expertise of Bob Schroeder, Mike Szalkiewicz, Matt Lewis, Nino Landa, Ron Bonin, Larry Zimmerman, Justin Reed, Jim Madigan, Alan Zaciek, Mike Jolly, Mark Wojcik, and Rick Corona. DLS is blessed to have a group I call the best football staff in Michigan. This group is a great blend of youth and veteran coaches. I will miss the bonding with the fellows in the coaching office and breaking down film.”
John Knight, President of De La Salle, said, “In the brief time I have been President, I have come to know Paul as a man who is committed to our Lasallian mission. Paul has made a difference in the lives of countless young men at our school. On behalf of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, our Board of Trustees, our administration, faculty, staff and students I want to thank Paul for all he has done for our school. Our prayers and good wishes remain with Paul and his family as he moves into the next chapter of his life.”
Video of Coach Verska speaking to players before the OLSM game earlier this season.