Return of a Legend


Greta Mott

Coach Semler on deck at the NA pool, where he coached the team for 35 years and won 9 state championships.

Greta Mott, Staff Writer

Kirk Semler said God called him to return to coach this season, and this season only.  

Kirk “Corky” Semler served as Head Coach for the North Allegheny Swim Team for 35 years, from 1978 to 2013, during which time, the team won 26 WPIAL championships, 9 PIAA championships, 16 WPIAL runner up, and 7 PIAA runner-up titles.

Now retired and a member of the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Semler said he accepted the offer to return because of God.  “I am convinced God called me to this position,” he said.

After former Swim Coach Patrick Wenzler resigned in October, the swim team was running without an official head coach.  While the school board worked to find a replacement, the swimmers were working on finding motivation and toughness.

Fortunately for the team, one thing Coach Semler is very big on is toughness.  During pre-season, he sat down with the athletes before practice every day and told them how important it is.  According to Semler, toughness is all you need to get better.

After having been away from coaching for so long, Semler said that he is nervous about his lack of knowledge of the swimming in WPIAL and PIAA and that “making a line up will be a challenge.”  He then added that the great team of assistant coaches, Casey Melzer, Brittany Glass, Allie Pennetti, and Jordan Langue fill that gap “pretty darn well.”  

Semler was inducted into the WPIAL Sports Hall of Fame in June 2015.

Semler said his favorite thing about coaching is his relationship with his athletes.

When asked how this season will compare to previous seasons, Semler said, “I’ve been on deck for 2 weeks.  I love the attitude, I love the acceptance of me as a coach, and I’m really starting to like each and every swimmer in the water”.

Another thing Semler is glad to see is “their attitude and their drive, and their willingness to be coached and want to improve.”

His idea of success for the team is to embrace toughness.  Semler will be proud of the team as long as they stay tough.  “I want each swimmer to swim to their god-given potential,” said Semler when asked what his goals were for the season.

The high school team is now honored and excited to go to work each day with a living legend.