Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sun, Feb. 28

WHS Gym renamed after Petronovich

Although most know him as the girls basketball coach, Don Petronovich has also been a teacher for many years, as well as a very involved community man.

Petro, as he is lovingly called, was born in Gallup, N.M., and moved to Winslow when he was six. His father was a dispatcher for the Santa Fe Railroad and his mother was a homemaker.

Petro has one brother, Glen, who is retired from the railroad and lives in Winslow.

He and his wife, Claylene, have been married for 42 years. Petro says he knew her all through school, but they did not date until he was in college. They have two kids; Michael is an engineer at the railroad and Erik is a special education teacher at WJHS.

He has two grandkids; Anthony is a junior at WHS and Shayna is three.

Petro has been teaching for almost 37 years and coaching for 29.

When asked why he wanted to become a teacher, Petro said he always wanted to teach since the fifth or sixth grade.

"I dreamed about being a teacher," he said.

One of his influences was a WHS teacher named Mrs. Ore. She was a social studies teacher, and inspired him to continue on that line(teaching).

Petro always wanted to coach, too.

He worked for the railroad the summer after he graduated from high school, and for two years that he was out of college.

Petro worked for Frontier Airlines in Winslow, but transferred to Flagstaff to continue his college education.

During that time, he worked nights and attended school during the days.

Petro graduated from Winslow High School in 1959. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1969 with a Master in Education. He received his Bachelor's Degree in 1968.

In fall of 1969, he began working in the Winslow School District as a fifth grade teacher where he stayed for the next few years. He then moved to the Winslow Junior High School as a math teacher and later on as a social studies teacher.

During this time, he coached freshman football and jayvee basketball as well as baseball. He stayed at the WJHS for six or seven years.

Petro then moved to the high school were he was a social studies/American history teacher and continued coaching.

During this time, the WUSD voted to only allow coaches two sports. So Petro dropped baseball and kept coaching basketball and football.

He started the girls basketball program in 1976.

In 1985, he became athletic director and at that time could not coach. The next year, the athletic director job was cut back to part time, so he could coach. He coached girls basketball and softball.

Petro coached softball for one year, and has basically coached girl's basketball since.

During his high school years, Petro played football, basketball and baseball. He played baseball at NAU for one and a half years until he broke his ankle.

Petro says he had great coaches that helped shaped his philosophy, including Emil Nasser, who was his football coach and Carl Weatherton, his baseball coach.

"I have had a lot of fun, " he noted. "I have enjoyed my career. Every day is just like Christmas for me."

Petro enjoys being athletic director, and coaching. He contributes the success of the program to the great athletes who have played for him.

"One of the reasons we have been so successful is because of the athletes.," he said.

Petro's hobbies include playing golf, another thing he contributes to Wheatherton who got him interested; and even though in can be hard, yard work.

Petro said he likes to travel, but does not get to do it very often.

He is a member of the AIA executive board, and is in his third and final year of his term. Every year, Petro and Claylene travel to a convention during the summer. Last summer it was Orlando, Flo.

Petro says the hardest part of coaching is playing throughout the summer.

The team plays at various tournaments on the weekends, and practices two times each week.

"It is hard to coach in the summer," he said. "But it is a necessity now."

At the end of each summer, Petro and his wife take a trip with the girls to San Diego for one week, for the Jack in the Box Open. The open is a tournament consisting of 360 teams. The girls get to visit Disneyland and Sea World with Petro.

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