COAL TOWNSHIP — With the Mount Carmel Rotary Club celebrating the 100th Mount Carmel Area Football Banquet on Sunday at the Brady Fire Company Banquet Hall, it’s only fitting the guest speakers came from one of the most influential families in Red Tornadoes history.
Four of the six sons of legendary head coach Joe “Jazz” Diminick — Gary, Ken, Joe and John — attended the ceremony to pass on advice to current players and to support their alma maters and one of the most successful football programs in the state.
Speaking in order from oldest to youngest, Gary Diminick took to the podium first, stating that the brothers were not there to speak about the success they’ve had before giving an anecdote about his first experience playing with the Red Tornadoes.
He recalled about drawing the ire of his father during his freshman season when he broke the team’s curfew to attend a dance at Knoebels with some of the team’s seniors.
“At first I was excited that the seniors asked me to go with them,” he recalled. “But then I realized they probably thought, ‘If we take the coach’s kid we can’t get in trouble.’”
He reminisced about his father being a stickler for curfew enforcement, often patrolling the town in his Hudson Jet looking for players who were out too late.
Gary joked with his brothers, stating that the hypothetical sports discussions between his siblings, about who the better athlete was, or who the better team was, have always been entertaining.
“At the end of the day, I have a one-up on Joe,” he said, adding that his 1973 Notre Dame team under Ara Parsegian topped Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, 24-23, which decided the national championship, while Joe’s title game against Alabama ended with a 14-7 defeat in 1978.
Gary then went on to a more serious note, telling the team to stay proud to the team they play for.
“You guys will always be a Red Tornado no matter what you’ve done,” he said. “I wish the seniors luck and the returners to continue to be proud of being a Red Tornado.”
Ken Diminick followed his older brother’s speech, speaking about faith, education and work ethic, which were virtues instilled in him by his father.
“I remember asking what my father prayed for,” he recalled, explaining that his father made trips to church before games. “He told me, ‘I can tell you what I don’t pray for. I don’t pray we win. I pray there are no serious injuries and I pray that I coach the best that I can.’”
On education, Ken said he learned from his father that football is simply a means to an end — not the end all.
“He would brag about the kids that he got into college,” he said. “One of his biggest messages was that nobody should ever out work you.”
Ken went on to explain that all people fail, whether it’s athletes in sports or otherwise, and it’s important to learn from those failures to become better.
Joe used his brief time on the podium to provide some comedic relief.
“I played for two great coaches in my time,” the Penn State graduate said. “Joe ‘Jazz’ Diminick and Joe Paterno.
“And if you guys are lucky, you can play for three great coaches — (current MCA head coach) John Darrah, James Franklin and Bill Belichick,” he said to a mixture of groans and laughter from the crowd.
The youngest of the Diminick brothers in attendance, John, gave his congratulations to the current team for their success and referenced the history of the program while addressing the players.
“Everybody seems to know about MCA football,” he said. “You’re part of a brotherhood — be proud of it and best of luck in the future.”
History of the banquet
Through its 100 years of existence, the Mount Carmel Rotary Club football banquet has had some of the most well-known names in sports attend as guest speaker.
Notable speakers include — John Heisman (1922), Harry Stuhldreher (1929), Jim Crowley (1939, 1972), Joe Paterno (1968), Joe Theisman (1975), Dick Vermeil (1977), Jackie Sherrill (1981), Jason Garrett (1995) and Henry Hynoski Sr. (2010).
Jose Gonzalo, who works as the team’s statistician and is one of the lead organizers of the banquet, said it has gotten progressively harder to book national sports figures due to the advent of agents and large appearance fees.
He said the banquet is now in the routine of booking speakers that have some type of connection to Mount Carmel Area football, which he feels provides a better experience for the current players.
The chemistry was on display during Sunday’s banquet, with several comments from current players getting laughs from the table of Diminick brothers and vice versa.
Below is the list of award winners from the banquet: