Play-action call: Parent spies on opponents to help son
Share with others:
"My biggest concern, though, is a parent going around and portraying himself as a coach from a university and videotaping a practice," Mars football coach Scott Heinauer said. "You wonder what parents have come to?"
Click photo for larger image.
Two days before a star high school quarterback had a record-setting passing performance, his father posed as a college coach to gain admittance to the opponent's practice, and then filmed part of it.
Frank Colavecchia, whose son, Rocco, is a senior quarterback at Shenango High School in New Castle, could face disciplinary action from Shenango school officials for his actions Wednesday. Frank Colavecchia told Mars coach Scott Heinauer he was a coach from Ohio University and wanted to scout Mars quarterback D.J. Cannon. Heinauer let Colavecchia watch practice from the bleachers and that's where Colavecchia taped some of the practice without Heinauer's knowledge.
Frank Colavecchia yesterday admitted his actions and said, "I screwed up. It was stupid."
Heinauer said his team spent close to an hour Wednesday going over what defensive coverages to use against Rocco Colavecchia and Shenango's passing game. On Friday, Rocco Colavecchia threw for a school-record 457 yards, completing 31 of 52 passes in a 41-35 victory against Mars. The yardage total is one of the highest in WPIAL history.
Heinauer believes Frank Colavecchia's actions are ugly examples of how far a parent will go to get their child a perceived edge in athletics.
"It's unbelievable a parent would go to this extreme," Heinauer said.
Frank Colavecchia said he will write a letter of apology to Mars and its team. Shenango coach Brian Cooper said the school is investigating the incident and could discipline Frank Colavecchia in some manner. Some schools in the past have gone so far as to ban a parent from attending games.
"I was an overzealous parent," Colavecchia said. "But on the other hand, Rocco probably wouldn't be where he is today if I wasn't an overzealous parent."
Colavecchia said he taped "20-30 minutes" of Mars' practice and gave a CD of it to his son Thursday. The elder Colavecchia told his son to give the CD to Cooper. Cooper said he didn't view the CD, threw it away immediately and called Frank Colavecchia on the phone Thursday night to reprimand him.
"He called and said, 'Are you crazy?' " Frank Colavecchia said. "The coach didn't ask me to do this. No one asked me."
When asked whether Rocco Colavecchia viewed the CD, Cooper said, "Not that I'm aware of." Frank Colavecchia also said he doesn't believe his son watched the CD of Mars' practice.
Frank Colavecchia said he routinely travels in the Mars district for his work.
"I'm in the gas well business, and I was in the area, so I thought I'd check out their practice," he said. "I had my camcorder with me, so I figured, 'The heck with it. I'll just film it,' not knowing that it might be wrong. After the fact, I realized I shouldn't have done it."
Frank Colavecchia also admitted he told Heinauer he was from Ohio.
"I told him I wanted to check out D.J. Cannon, but I told him I would prefer that no one know I was here," Frank Colavecchia said.
Heinauer had thought nothing of a coach scouting Cannon because Ohio University is a member of the Mid-American Conference, and three colleges from that conference (Miami, Bowling Green and Akron) already were showing interest in Cannon.
It's not uncommon for a college assistant coach to watch a player practice. But it is uncommon for a coach to film a practice.
"But I wasn't paying any attention to the guy because I was concentrating on practice," Heinauer said.
Near the end of practice, Heinauer said he looked into the stands and saw a small camcorder sitting next to Colavecchia. That's when he became suspicious.
It was Cannon's father, Shawn, who spotted Colavecchia in the stands and later told Heinauer his identity. Shawn Cannon is the president of the Mars Quarterback Club and sometimes watches practice. He said he saw Colavecchia leave the Mars parking lot in a Hummer.
Shawn Cannon then approached Heinauer and asked if he knew the individual watching practice.
"I had seen Mr. Colavecchia at some camps in the past that both his son and D.J. attended. So I knew [Frank Colavecchia]," Shawn Cannon said. "When I asked Scott who it was and he said it was a coach, I said, 'I don't think so. That's Colavecchia's father.' "
Heinauer said he approached Cooper before the game Friday night and asked what kind of car Rocco Colavecchia's father drives. When told it was a Hummer, Heinauer informed Cooper he believed Colavecchia was filming a Mars practice.
"He already knew of the situation and said he threw the tape away and never watched it," Heinauer said. "I was obviously very upset, but I guess I have to believe the guy."
In the first two games this season, Colavecchia completed 26 of 50 passes for 334 yards.
"We'll never know if anyone watched that tape, but you don't think if my quarterback saw the other team's practice of defensive alignments that it might help some?" Heinauer said. "My biggest concern, though, is a parent going around and portraying himself as a coach from a university and videotaping a practice. You wonder what parents have come to?"
First Published September 19, 2006 12:00 am