Division I Coach, Recruiter Tislaretz Brings 'Beaver County Toughness' to the Field
By: Taylor Nichol
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Travis Tislaretz spent many formative years on a football field in the small town of Monaca, Pennsylvania. He appreciated the strong influence that his coaches had on his life. He knew as a young boy that he wanted to positively impact players the same way. Just a few years out of college, he is now living out his childhood dream at Youngstown State University. Tislaretz serves as the Tight End and Fullback Coach for the YSU football team.
In addition to the regular routine of practices and games, the job includes being the Beaver County recruiter for the team. Spending his youth in the Western Pennsylvania football scene, he brings relevant wisdom and experience to the table. He believes that athletes from the area have a unique “toughness” that Division 1 football teams are always looking for.
What is it about the area that produces such stellar athletes? “Football is just a part of life in Western Pennsylvania,” he said. “The style of football that most play in Western Pa. has a huge role in their success.”
Tislaretz says families are significant in the regional Friday night lights phenomenon. “Starting to play football at a young age definitely plays a part,” he said. Tislaretz credits his father, Frank, for keeping him motivated and grounded. “He always pushed me to work hard at everything that I did,” he said. Hard work was a strong value in the Tislaretz household and he would never rely on talent alone to succeed. “I wasn’t going to be the best athlete on the field and needed every advantage I could get.”
Tislaretz witnessed multiple Western Pennsylvania success stories. He played on the newly-merged Central Valley Varsity Football team during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The high school merger took place as Tislaretz was entering his junior year. He played alongside current Buffalo Bills Wide Receiver Robert Foster both seasons at Central Valley. When Tislaretz was a senior, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead was a high school freshman on the team. Not many people can say that their high school teammate made it to the NFL. Tislaretz can say that two of his teammates did.
While Tislaretz has witnessed success, he has also seen people fail. When asked what principle he is strictest about with the YSU football team, he made it clear that there is no room for laziness in college football or coaching. “If you don’t do extra, you’re not going to be able to play at this level,” he said. “Be willing to do the things that others aren’t; show up early and leave late.”
Tislaretz recalls being shaped by lessons from coach Joe O’Neill, a former defensive coordinator for the Monaca football team. O’Neill was a role model for a young Tislaretz, sharing important leadership skills with him. “He taught me how to study football when watching film,” he said. “He also knew how to get the most out of players.”
Being only a few years older than the players he coaches, Tislaretz says he has had no trouble gaining their respect. “The guys really buy into what you’re teaching them when they know you care about them,” he said. His players know he is always looking out for them and what is best for the team. "I'd tell coaches not to make things all about yourself... I think that’s what makes players respect me even though I’m only a few years older.”
Tislaretz is happy to have found a great niche at the university. “My proudest moment so far was being able to be a part of our National Championship runner up team,” he said. “We had a group of guys who came together and worked hard.”
He has high hopes for the team moving forward. He wants to bring more Western Pennsylvania talent to the university. “If there are any high school athletes that would like to reach me, send your highlights to my email,” he said. “We’re always looking to add some tough Western Pa. players to our roster!”
Travis Tislaretz can be contacted at email@example.com
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