Dunmorean of the Month: Gianna Muracco

By Steve Svetovich

Fitness is the name of the game for Dunmore School District health and physical education teacher Gianna Muracco.

Daughter of Joe and Jean Muracco, Dunmore, Gianna, 34, competes in multiple half marathons and numerous triathlons which she wins or places in her age group almost every time.

Last year Gianna was voted best Zumba instructor in Northeast PA through a public vote in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

She is currently a local Zumba instructor and cycling instructor.,

Gianna is head girls’ varsity track coach for the Dunmore Lady Bucks. She teaches health and physical education at Dunmore Elementary School for grades kindergarten through sixth and health education to the seventh grade in the school district.

As a student at Dunmore, she was a member of the track and field team, both as a runner and javelin thrower. She was also a member of the swimming team. She made districts in both sports all four years.

She has been a Zumba instructor for 13 years and cycling instructor for nine years.

The Dunmore graduate received a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education from Marywood University in 2011. She received a master’s degree in secondary education K-12 from Marywood in 2013.

Gianna also teaches hot yoga and strength training. She started teaching cycling nine years ago at Studio LA and now at E Mobile Gym, Dunmore.

“I love being a school teacher,” she said. “It’s inspiring. I’m very passionate about it. I tell kids they can do anything. You can do a lot of things well. You don’t have to be great at everything. You just start with little steps and little goals. I can teach Zumba in school and the students connect with it.

“It’s a roller coaster ride. I believe in building both mental and physical strength. You need determination in life.”

Gianna made nationals twice in her age group in triathlons which she started competing in beginning in 2017. She also competes in sprint triathlons,

Gianna said she lives her life with fitness as her mantra. “I believe in determination and building strength and endurance. I try to get better and faster. I am super competitive. Running relieves stress and keeps you in shape mentally and physically. It has come naturally to me. I try to push myself beyond my limits and build up endurance.”

Confident and highly energetic, Gianna said she has been a member of Scranton Ballet Theatre since age four.

“I’ve been dancing my whole life,” she said.

Gianna’s strong beliefs in fitness help her see the world. As a Zumba instructor, she has traveled the world teaching. She has taught Zumba for audiences of as many 500 people.

“I travel the world doing events,” she said. “I have the time in the summer months when not teaching in school. I love teaching Zumba. I love Latin music. I just love the beats and different cultures and backgrounds.

“Zumba has made me a more multi-cultural person. Now I have multiple diversities.”

Gianna most recently placed first in a triathlon in Hazleton. She placed sixth in her age group recently in Lancaster. She places in the top five percent of all the half marathons she competes in. She ran in several 5K marathons and placed in all of them.

Gianna has been the Dunmore girls’ track and field coach for the past five years after serving four years as an assistant.

If you meet Gianna when she is not teaching, it will most likely be during or after a workout. “I love working out,” she said.

“I work out all the time.”

Dunmore retired football coach Jack Henzes honored with statue

Courtesy: Tim Drewes Photography

By Steve Svetovich

He is a man who made a huge impact on every student athlete who crossed his path.

Life lessons.

Legendary retired Dunmore football coach Jack Henzes was fittingly honored with a statue at Gatto Field at Dunmore’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept. 16.

Coach Henzes was honored during a pre-game ceremony dedicating the statue of him prior to the Dunmore contest against Riverside. The Bucks defeated the Vikings, 40-22, in the contest. Dunmore’s Danny Pigga scored three second half touchdowns in the win. Pigga, a junior, rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on five carries and added four receptions for 96 yards and two more scores.

“We wanted to give the crowd a good show,” Pigga said. “Coach Henzes stayed for the game and we wanted to give him a show as well.”

Coach Henzes, 86, had a career record of 444-164-8 after 52 seasons at both Dunmore High School and Wyoming Area High School. A total of 413 of the wins came at Dunmore.

He retired with the second most wins among Pennsylvania high school football coaches. He is now third on the list.

The base of the Henzes statue reads: “Jack Henzes, Dunmore High School Educator-Coach-Mentor-Friend 1970-2019. 413 wins 155 losses 8 ties. Once a Buck, Always a Buck.”

During the pre-game ceremony honoring Henzes, current Dunmore players read words submitted by past Bucks players. The past players submitted words that best described coach Henzes. Those words included, “perseverance, character, integrity, passionate, selfless.”

Henzes closely listened to all the words.

Former Denver Broncos head football coach and long time NFL defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who played for and coached under Henzes, was in attendance and spoke at the ceremony. “I was happy I could make it and it’s a great honor for Coach,” said Fangio. “It’s a remembrance for everyone who knew him and, moving forward, everyone can ask and learn about him and instill some of his values.

“He impacted so many lives, not just football players but every student who went to Dunmore High School.”

When reached by The Dunmorean, Fangio said, “It’s a statue to honor the great work and dedication Coach Henzes had for the football program and every student in the high school. It’s a landmark for future generations of Dunmore High School students to ask and learn about his greatness and to inspire them during their days at Dunmore High School and into their adulthood.”

John Marichak, superintendent of the Dunmore School District and former Scranton High School football coach, said to The Dunmorean, “Coach Henzes was always gracious with his time and knowledge. He helped me so much as a young coach, both  in ways that had to do with X’s and O’s and things that pertained to character. He was the ultimate professional as my role changed to that of administrator.

“The man did things the right way.”

Dunmore head football coach Kevin McHale, who played for and was an assistant under Henzes, said to The Dunmorean, “It is a great tribute to Coach Henzes and so well deserved. Along with winning many football games, he went above and beyond in setting a great example for student athletes and teaching life lessons to many generations. Many of his student athletes have passed these lessons down to their children and grandchildren.”

Former Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney said to The Dunmorean, “Coach Henzes is a true gentleman, loving father, and extraordinary coach. He not only taught football, but taught his players respect and life lessons.

“Coach Henzes also grows a great garden.”

Former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi, who played football two years for Henzes, told The Dunmorean, “He was a great guy. I spoke with him numerous times over the years. I ran into him many times at the Farmer’s Market while he was going for his walk. He has a true people’s persona.”

Dunmore senior star tailback Nico Ruggiero said to The Dunmorean, “Coach Henzes is a legend in Dunmore. Everyone knows what he has done. He was an amazing coach for all of the teams he coached in Dunmore. And he definitely deserves the statue.”

Dunmore assistant coach Michael Perry, who played for Henzes, said, “He was more than a coach. He was a father figure and great role model.”

Perry said Coach Henzes made sure to look at each player’s report card to make sure every student athlete was passing.

Coach Henzes, with tears in his eyes during the ceremony, said, “This is a great honor. I want to thank our Board of Education, the players and coaches who did a great job for us.

“And I love the people of Dunmore. They’ve been great to me. I love them so much.

“Once a Buck, always a Buck.”