Kowalski succeeds Marino as WSU football coach
WESTFIELD – Pete Kowalski has been officially named the head football coach at Westfield State University (WSU).
Kowalski, a longtime WSU assistant coach, had been named the interim head coach this past December after Steve Marino announced his retirement after coaching the Owls for 24 seasons. Kowalski becomes the first full-time head coach in the 33-year history of the WSU varsity football program.
Once the position was elevated from part-time to full-time status, WSU athletics director Richard Lenfest stated that the search committee did not have to look very far to find its head coach.
“I am pleased to announce Pete Kowalski as the first full-time football coach in program history,” Lenfest said. “Pete is a role model for our football program who has excellent values and is a consummate educator. Pete has the respect of our student-athletes and he has distinguished himself as a top defensive coordinator in the region. He has been extremely loyal to WSU and I know he’s excited to take over the program and I’m looking forward to him leading our program.”
Kowalski, a member of the WSU coaching staff for the past 18 seasons, said, “I am eager and excited to begin this new era in WSU football. The selection process allowed me the opportunity to crystalize in my mind what I wanted this program to be. Coach Marino made being a head coach look easy; I know that there is going to be a learning curve but I think that being here for 18 seasons has shortened that process. In addition, I have a mature, experienced staff with head coaching experience that can make this transition successful.”
Kowalski had been elevated to associate head coach nine years ago and served as WSU’s defensive coordinator with an emphasis on linebackers, He was the architect of the Owls’ outstanding defense that led the nation in total defense in 2001 and 2002, and in 2009 they led the nation in turnover margin and pass efficiency defense.
Prior to his arrival at WSU in 1996, Kowalski coached for 14 years at Bulkeley High School in Hartford, Conn., and was the defensive coordinator for six seasons. Bulkeley was a state finalist in 1991 and had one of the top defenses in the state, allowing 5.4 points per game. In 1992 the Hartford school was ranked second in the state.
Kowalski has a wealth of coaching experience. He served as a track and field coach at Bulkeley from 1985-2013, including the past 19 years as head coach. He also coached the girls’ basketball team at Minnechaug High School in hometown of Wilbraham.
“My heart is a teacher’s heart and I will continue to emphasis the importance of the educational experience at WSU. I am looking forward to be working with student-athletes – there is a reason the student comes first,” Kowalski said. “The basic belief of my philosophy will not change whether I am the associate head coach or the head coach – full-time or part-time – I believe that coaching is teaching and that will remain as a constant.”
Kowalski graduated from West Springfield High School in 1972 and participated in football, basketball and track and field. He played a year of football and lacrosse at UMass Amherst and graduated in 1977 with a health and physical education degree. He taught health and physical education in the Hartford schools for the past 34 years.