Former Hazleton Area City District educator and coach, Ernest “Erne” Valente, was also involved in community youth sports programs for many years. Valente earned a well-deserved reputation as a coach who knew how to win. He was also an excellent teacher.
Erne was a 1930 graduate of Hazleton HS and was also a 1934 graduate of Bloomsburg S.T.C., with a BS degree in secondary education. He continued his studies at Bucknell University, obtaining a Masters degree in counseling. While at Bloomsburg, Erne broke into the lineup of the Husky basketball team in his junior year and was the catalyst in turning that year into a successful season. He was elected captain of the team in his senior year and supplied the scoring punch for another successful campaign. Erne was elected to a teaching position in Moconaqua School system in 1934, beginning his year in education. His salary for the year with $900. In 1935, he was elected a teacher in the Hazelton school system with the salary of $1000 per year. Being an educator and school counselor, and having a tremendous interest in sports in youth, Erne was provided with the opportunity to become more involved with young people both in an outside of school period his mission evolved into helping each individual become an outstanding contributing member of society; one of excellent character and a high standard of values by which to lead their lives. Erne was extremely dedicated, a fierce competitor, perfectionist, disciplinarian, motivator, and exponent of respect. He was never satisfied with mediocrity; he wanted to be the best both for himself and the young people he worked with. He instilled this attitude in the people around him. Valente, who taught at D.A. Harman Junior HS for decades, was head basketball coach at Hazleton HS and he coached football and basketball at JV level. He also played fast pitch softball and baseball locally and was involved with the Hazleton Little League and the Hazleton Teeners Baseball League. He was one of the founders of and the first commissioner of the Hazleton Midget Football League in 1963. Having met the needs of the boys with the football program, Erne, always aware of the other needs of the Community, instituted a Cheerleading component of the H.M.F.L. The cheerleaders were a tremendous success. They won first prize every year in the Funfest program. Apporximately 90 girls eventually became involved in the program. During the mid 1940s, his Harman JV basketball team won 65 straight games. His Hazleton High Baseball team won four McGeehan league championships from 1966-69. He was advisory coach when the Hazleton High Baseball team captured four league championships and two City Series titles in the 1950s and his teeners baseball team two championships in 1960-61. He also coached in legion baseball and won championships. He served as an officer of several youth sports organzations. When then-head coach Eddie Brominski asked Valente to aid in the Hazleton High football team by coaching the junior high team made up of players from Harman and HF Grebey Schools, he and the late Saverio Saullo, his co-coach, produced winning teams during their tenure. As a player, Valente pitched for the Hazleton Red Sox baseball team in the Sunbury League. At age 40, he pitched a no-hitter. Valente also played with a number of local fast pitch teams. Known for his intensive competitive spirit, he was elected to the Hazleton YMCA Sports Hall of Fame. When the girl’s junior high basketball team coach became ill, Valente capably filled in for her.
In addition to his many sports activities, Erne also found time to scout for the Hughie McGeehan Hazleton Basketball team, and umpired in little league, teeners, Babe Ruth, high school, and legion basketball teams. During all of his sports activities, he had outstanding support from his wife, affectionately known by the players, fans, and coaches by her nickname, “Tillie”, and his two daughters.