He has done a little bit of everything.
First, he was a fifth-grade homeroom teacher. Then he taught seventh-grade math. And when someone was needed to drive the school bus in the afternoons, Juan Mata volunteered.
"He's kind of run the gamut," said Leslie Mitros, the head of school at Aquinas Academy in Hampton. Now the director of admissions, Mr. Mata is "the gateway to the school for every single family," Ms. Mitros said.
But at a ceremony Friday at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland, Mr. Mata, a native of Spain, added a new accomplishment: He is now a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In front of 344 cheering Aquinas students -- and 67 other naturalization candidates representing 34 countries -- Mr. Mata told the story of his journey to the U.S.
An education student in Spain during the late 1980s, his family persuaded him to accept an offer to coach soccer in Chicago for a couple summers.
"I was a little reluctant to come to Chicago," Mr. Mata said. But he figured the time in the U.S. would give him a chance to improve his English skills and get some practice teaching. The connections he made in Chicago led him to Aquinas in 1998.
Mr. Mata, 48, told the crowd Friday that he knew nothing about Pittsburgh when he was offered an opportunity to teach at Aquinas. He spent a year in the Pittsburgh region before returning to Spain, but "my thoughts kept bringing me back here."
In 2000, he returned to the U.S. full time to teach at Aquinas. Not long after he returned, the school started looking for a field hockey coach. "They asked every female teacher in the school, then they asked me," he said.
Knowing nothing about field hockey, Mr. Mata agreed to coach. He bought a book about the rules and basic strategy and ended up coaching the team for 11 years.
And yes, he drove the bus to away games.
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, got to know Mr. Mata after sending his children to Aquinas. He said Mr. Mata is "a great guy," whose lime green ski outfit "always lights up the slopes."
In addressing the crowd of newly minted citizens, Mr. Rothfus told them: "Our country was founded on an ideal that you are able to develop God-given talents, that you have inalienable rights that don't come from the state, that we are all created equal, that here in this context of free country, you can develop and pursue happiness as you see fit."
"Who knows, maybe one of you will run for Congress one day," Mr. Rothfus added.
And if he asked Mr. Mata, he'd probably volunteer.
Alex Zimmerman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @AGZimmerman