Charles E. (Chuck) Senft
Brookline Recreation Director

Chuck Senft.

Chuck Senft To Be Feted As Man Of The Year
Article from the Brookline Journal - October 8, 1981

He's faced guns, knives and gang fights throughout his 25-year career in athletics, and now the next thing he will face is a testimonial dinner in his honor.

Charles E. Senft, Brookline's Man of the Year, lives in the North Side with his wife, Rozella, and daughter Terri. However, Chuck spends most of his time in Brookline.

A native of the North Side, Chuck came to Brookline in 1958 where he managed three recreation sites and programs at Moore Park, Brookline School and East Brookline facilities.

"My first job assignment in 1957 was at West Park in the North Side where I produced the first championship baseball team," Chuck said. "The City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Pittsburgh Pirate organization honored our accomplishment by presenting us with medals at Forbes Field."

Chuck Senft as an assistant high school football coach.

His outstanding work with the youth at West Park in developing a successful baseball program and in stopping a teenage gang element earned him praise from his superiors and a new assignment. It was a Cowley Recreation Center and Manchester School.

In 1958 Chuck was transferred to Moore Park where he faced a formidable challenge.

"It was the first time that I encountered the growing drug, drinking and social problems that were developing in the South Hills and at our centers," Chuck Said. "This was a real challenge."

It was in situations like these that Chuck found himself "fighting for my life to establish discipline and control." He recounted one incident at Moore Park where a child was trapped by five older people.

However Chuck is quick to point out that the situation at Moore Park has changed drastically since that incident.

"When I go to community meetings I always tell people that the majority of kids are good," Chuck said. "It's unfortunate that a small element puts a stigma on the whole group. Just because a small handful can't control themselves you can't let them get away with it."

And Chuck's secret to maintaining control is a proven winner.

"I've faced trying times, but I stick to the basic philosophy of treating everybody the same," Chuck said. "I set rules that they have to follow, but I tell them that they're free to enjoy the facilities the City has provided. They just can't be disruptive."

This philosophy has won Chuck the respect of the community, and more importantly, the respect of the kids.

"Parents never worried about drugs of kids smoking at my facility," Chuck said. "I believe in a wholesome-type facility where people don't have to be worried about walking around at night.

During his assignment at Moore Park, from 1958 to 1971, Chuck trained championship teams in track, boxing, basketball, football, volleyball, softball and baseball.

Connie Hawkins demonstrates the skills of
his trade at Moore Park in the summer of 1969.
Chuck Senft, far left, watches during the Connie Hawkins Basketball Camp
at Moore Park in the Summer of 1969.

It's no secret that Brookline's junior and senior boxing teams have won Golden Glove, Silver Glove and Silver Belt championships, and gained a reputation throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These accomplishments also took Chuck and his teams to the mayor's office where they were presented with trophies.

Perhaps more valuable to Chuck are the awards of appreciation from community groups and organizations for service in the Brookline-Beechview area.

"I try to assist all the community groups that I can," Chuck said. "I regularly attend and work closely with the Police-Citizens Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Brookline Lions, Brookline Knights Football Organization and the Brookline Little League.

I'm very community oriented, and I try to see that the goals of the community are achieved."

However, achieving these community goals is sometimes frustrating, according to Chuck.

"I enjoy extreme situations," he said. "But sometimes it's frustrating when I try to accomplish something and I feel it shouldn't be as hard as it is. You have to remember we're working with limited facilities, limited spaces and limited help.

Currently the Center Director at Brookline Memorial Park, a position he has held since 1971, Chuck has the opportunity to carry out these goals through his programming.

"I developed a fitness program that was the most attended in the city and brought Brookline the Punt, Pass and Kick competition in conjunction with the Ford Corporation.," he added.

A pioneer of programs like this, Chuck's record also boasts of promotional activities at the Center such as Tops, Yo-Yos, Hula Hoops, Frisbee, Zim-Zam and others.

Chuck Senft - 1987

And in these twenty-one years of service, Chuck has compiled a scrapbook that weighs about ten pounds and is six inches thick. It is crammed with recommendations, photographs, biographical data and newspaper clippings on his teams and accomplishments.

Yet Chuck is quick to point out that the City of Pittsburgh is ultimately responsible for providing kids with the opportunity for achievement.

"For example," he said, "track is a big program here in Brookline. It's helped a lot of kids go to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. They wouldn't have the chance to go if it wasn't for the programs that are sponsored by the City of Pittsburgh and the Department of Parks and Recreation."

Another popular program at the Center, which has earned Brookline a state-wide reputation, is boxing.

"Boxing for the beginner," Chuck said, "is a real character builder for kids. With three-hour workouts held some two to four days a week, and more as a tournament gets closer, we still have 100-150 kids turn out for the boxing teams."

These "beginners" later developed and matured into an older team that took Brookline and the City of Pittsburgh by storm.

The success of programs at the Center is dependant on input from the community, according to Chuck.

Chuck Senft - 1987
Boxing may have been Chuck's cup of tea, but a good game of Ping Pong could quench his thirst.

"The community has been very supportive in every phase and facet of my job," Chuck said. "The parents, the merchants and the community groups have all been incredible. Some people criticize the Brookline community for being crisis-oriented, but they've always responded to me."

And this response hasn't wavered in his career in Brookline. Neither has the thrill of watching a youngster's raw talent developed into a skill.

"It's very rewarding to see how a kid turns out," he said. "They start out in a raw state and eventually become a polished athlete. Or sometimes it's the challenge of seeing something bad turn into something good."

Regardless of the close working relationship between Chuck and his kids, he refuses to disclose his age.

"If the kids guess too low it makes me feel good," he said. "And if they guess too high they still respect me because they figure even though I'm old, I'm still active."

Active is an understatement for this man who is involved in every phase of his programming.

A well-rounded coach and supervisor, Chuck has organized and taught the following sports at the Center: basketball, volleyball, boxing, street hockey, tackle football, flag football, softball, track and field, weightlifting, marble shooting, physical fitness and many special events.

In addition to these sporting events he has organized, Chuck is also responsible for a variety of social events at the Center: pizza parties, Halloween parties, Christmas parties, dances, banquets, animal shows, trips, bicycle rodeos and other events.

And from marble shooting to basketball shooting, Chuck instills a team-oriented spirit into the kids.

Chuck Senft and Brookline's Flag Football Champs - 1999.
Brookline's flag football champions and fans gather for a photo after a
26-20 win over Arlington Heights on November 20, 1999.

"Everything I try to do here is team-oriented," he said. "I build the idea of the team into each individual child and when we win - WE win. In life it's surely not one man for himself. Eventually you have to carry the load, responsibility for a wife, a family member or a friend."

The news of being honored as Man of the Year by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce came as a surprise to the man who usually thinks in a team-oriented way.

"I never gave the dinner a thought," Chuck said. "I always attended the Man of the Year dinners in the past and figured I'd do the same this year."

"I love the people that I've dealt with from the Lions Club, the Community Council, Brookline residents and members of the Chamber because they've been so important to me," he added. "For these people to name me Man of the Year is an extreme honor. I wanted to say 'No, not me,' but it was an honor I really couldn't refuse."

He stressed that the help of these organizations has been invaluable to the success of his programs.

"Their concern for the kids and the programs has been great," Chuck said. "And I can't stress enough that their continued help is going to be greatly needed. If there was ever a time when we needed then, it will be in the future."

Although Chuck said he couldn't be any happier than with what he's doing right now, he is looking to the future.

"I have mixed emotions," Chuck said. "Eventually I'd like to be an area supervisor, but I'm not sure this is the right time. I'm not sure that I'm ready to sit behind a desk because I'm still extremely active and it would be a whole new change."

The Brookline Community will have the opportunity to gather in a 'team-oriented' way and show their appreciation to Chuck for his years of community involvement by attending the dinner in his honor at La Cas Del Fredo on Wednesday, October 21, when the Brookline Chamber of Commerce installs the 1981-82 officers and honors Charles E. (Chuck) Senft as Man of the Year.

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* Local Dignitaries on Chuck Senft *

"In working with Brookline's youth, Chuck has demonstrated boundless energy and enthusiasm. I must impress that in his contacts with the Brookline Area Community Council, I have found him more than cooperative. He always leaves one with the impression that his primary mission is to help youth and the community at all times."

Elva McGibbeny, President - Brookline Area Community Council.

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"Chuck has instilled the finest values in the young people he worked with. It is no understatement to say that the Brookline community would be much poorer in the quality of its young people if it weren't for Chuck Senft."

Michael M. Dawida, State Representative - 26th District.

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"...I have yet to come across any one individual to measure up to or come close to Chuck Senft. For his display of tremendous amount of initiative and energy, Mr. Senft has a real ability to inspire young people in the activities at the Brookline Community Center. He is a builder of true community spirit and sportsmanship as well as a molder of character of the young people -- something which is drastically needed in this day and age."

Angelo Masullo Sr, President - Brookline Little League Association.

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"Under the direction of Mr. Chuck Senft, the boxing program has attained high distinction and respect, not only in the Brookline community, but citywide. Mr. Senft's endeavors have not gone unnoticed by the various leaders in Brookline and his concern for our youth and his cooperation with youth-oriented programs has gained him the deepest respect and an esteem he has justly earned."

John C. Keenan, Secretary - Brookline Lions Club.

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Chuck Senft and Mayor Richard Caligiuri
Chuck Senft receives the congratulations of Pittsburgh Mayor
Richard S. Caligiuri on being named Brookline's Man of the Year.

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Brookline's Message To Chuck Senft
Article from the Brookline Journal - November 5, 1981

Dignitaries, community leaders, city officials, parents and children gathered at La Casa Del Fredo to honor Chuck Senft as Brookline's Man of the Year, October 21.

In addition, new members of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce were installed for the 1981-82 club year. Incoming officers are: Linda Fazio (Boss), president; Jim Moran, vice-president, John Mussitsch, treasurer; and Phyllis Carver, secretary.

Rich Shuminsky, past-president of the Chamber, was presented with a plaque for the hard work during his administration, especially for his work with the Brookline Christmas lighting program.

George Cupples, director of athletics for the City of Pittsburgh, Department of Parks and Recreation and a 25-year friend of Senft, served as master of ceremonies.

"I'm honored to be here tonight to honor Chuck Senft as man of the year," Cupples said. "As you may know, Chuck worked for the Department of Parks and Recreation for 25 years, and over twenty of those have been in Brookline."

"We're here to recognize the energy, spirit and most importantly, his involvement with the community," he added. "When you have Chuck Senft working for you, it is truly a partnership between government and the people of the city."

Rosella and Chuck Senft
Rosella and Chuck Senft

Also present for Senft's "night of glory" was Carl Mancuso, superintendent for the City of Pittsburgh, Department of Parks and Recreation. He referred to Chuck's outstanding ability as an athletic director.

"The City of Pittsburgh, is always, always well served when Chuck Senft goes out to a function." he said. "When the Brookline team pulls in, generally the other teams leave."

Other city and county officials in attendance included Mayor Richard S. Caligiuri, and from the Department of Parks and Recreation: Louise Brown, director; Ross Rotunda, program director; John Mahoney, area supervisor; Arch Herron, area supervisor; Leonard Duncan, area president.

During the testimonial portion of the program, John Boris, a former participant in the Brookline Recreation programs, recalled how both he and his children had grown up under Chuck's supervision.

"No matter where you went, Chuck was there," Boris said. "When the troubled element came to Brookline, Chuck was like a clone. He was everywhere."

"Every single child that went down to the Center was like his own," he added.

Some of the thanks were more direct, like that of Billy Anderson, a star boxer on the Junior and Senior Brookline boxing teams.

"Thanks. You seemed like a dad to me," he said. "My parents owe about a million dollars to you for babysitting."

Chuck and his Angels
Chuck Senft is surrounded by his Angels. Current and former boxers came to honor their coach on his big night.
Among those pictured: Bob Healy, Jake Ratay, Bill Anderson, Ralph Ambrose, Dan O'Brien, Jack Kobistek, Mike
Trapolsi, Michelle Trapolsi, Danny McKenna, Jack Doyle, Jeff Buskirk, Bob Anderson,
Linda Phillips, Dave Covatto, Ralph Bucci and Phil Giampa.

Other officials who could not be present at the dinner sent subsitutes or letters of congratulations. Michael Dawida went Vi Nolla as his representative, and Senator Eugene Scanlon also sent a letter expressing his regrets that he could not be present.

Community leaders who presented Senft with awards were: Elva McGibbeny, president of the Brookline Community Council; John Keenan, secreatary of the Brookline Lions Club; Jack Henry, Bob Forester and Phyllis Carver, of the Brookline Little League; Ralph Sestilli, of Brookline Knights Football.

Phyllis Carver, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, presented Chuck's wife Rozella with a gold charm.

When the Man of the Year finally took the microphone, he thanked the many people who helped him in his job.

"I thank my wife for sticking by me and my daughter, Terri," he said. "I spent so many hours with kids other than my own that I sort of turned around and she was grown. I hope she understands because I love her."

In other comments, Senft recognized the following individuals for their support: George Cupples, Richard Shuminsky, Linda Fazio (Boss), Bill and Phyllis Carver, John Mussistch, Joe Tokar, Paul Palma, Jim Mongelli, Vince Mazza, Dan and Elva McGibbeny, Angelo Masullo, Jim Raimondi, Ed Motznik, Vi Nolla, Ronald Brown, Toxy Healy, John Keenan, Dale Noah, Dan Kahl, Eva Caye, Mr. and Mrs. Moran, Ralph and Gina Sestilli, Judy Ball, Bernice King, Granny Webb, Jack Henry, Mr. and Mrs. Frank DeBor, John Boris, Babe and Rich Anderson, Billy Anderson, Len Flowers, Lil Benson, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Dolan, Ed McGrath, Fred Goehringer, Bob Forester, Connie and Larry Lapolski, Tom Abbott, Jim Turcol, Danny O'Brien, Walt Niedbala, Mike Murin, Richard Macino, Michelle Trapolsi, Linda Melman, Jack Doyle, Kevin Nolla, Robert Healy, Jeff Buskirk, Bruno Riccardi, Jake Ratay, Phil Giampa, Jack Kobistek, Mike Trapolsi, David Covato, Jim Waters, Linda Phillips, Patti Anania, Ralph Ambrose, Pat McGrath, Sammy Parrotto, Pat Hebda and Andy Kail.

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Brookline Memorial Recreation Center Staff 1999
Recreation Center Staff - Fall 1999
Bobby Mazzeo, Director Chuck Senft, John Ladasky III,
Michelle Underwood and Area Supervisor Wayne Mosesso.

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Chuck Senft Keeps Going And Going
A Short Follow-Up - April 1999

Eighteen years have passed since Chuck Senft received his Man of the Year award, and you can still find him down at the Community Center, now refered to as the Brookline Memorial Recreation Center. He is still the master of ceremonies in the youth recreation arena, and his boxing club is still running wild in the ring.

Having begun his tenure in Brookline in 1958 at Moore Park, this season will mark Chuck's 42nd year as a mentor and caretaker of the neighborhood's children. Four generations of Brookliners have passed through his doors, and the majority have walked out the other side better people for the experience.

A quarter century plus fifteen seasons in the Director's seat haven't slowed Chuck down a bit. This is a man who is capable of extraordinary amounts of work. He still runs the track program, hosts a summer men's basketball league, stages events like the Brookline Breeze, the Easter Egg Hunt and the Halloween Party, and still has time for his true love, the Brookline Boxing Club, which has garnered numerous championships under Coach Senft.

Brookline Boxing Club Logo

And we still don't know how old he is! We may never know. If he wasn't old in 1981, then he must be getting there now. Only a nagging back problem in the early 90s, which kept him sidelined for a couple years, could slow him down. To watch him in action day after day leaves you with the impression that this is a man who shares a secret with the Energizer Bunny.

So much has happened since 1981. Brookline Park underwent extensive renovations, adding a pool, tennis courts, new fields, new playground equipment, and lots of recreation space. Kids have grown into adults and their children are now learning what the Center has to offer. Soccer has grown into one of the #1 sports in America, and the Center staff offered the best youth soccer camp in the entire parks department. Through it all, Chuck Senft has been there, offering kids the fundamental tools to grow into successful adults.

Parks 100th Anniversary - Brookline Park 1989
Chuck Senft with other Parks dignitaries at the 100th Anniversary celebration
of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Parks at Brookline Park in 1989.

Chuck Senft never made it to Area Supervisor. The time was never right. Maybe he knew in his heart that he had found his home amidst the youth of Brookline. Maybe the thought of passing a winter season without his beloved "Angels" was just too much to swallow. Whatever his reasoning, Brookline as a whole has benefited considerably from his long and illustrious career as director of the Brookline Memorial Recreation Center.

To many of us who have grown up knowing Chuck - first as a second father, then as a coach and mentor, then in our later years as a friend - he may have been Man of the Year in 1981, but in our lifetime he could be considered the Man of the Decade, four decades running....and still going!

Learn more about what it took to be one of Charlie's Angels:

<The Rocky Road>
by Post-Gazette Staff Writer Chris Snowbeck

Chuck and two angels in 1998.
Brookline Boxing Coach Chuck Senft with 1998 Golden Gloves
medalists Joseph Kellington and John Ladasky.

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The Golden Years

In August of 2003, the Brookline Memorial Recreation Center closed due to financial difficulties. When it re-opened in February of 2005, there was one change that took some getting used to. Chuck Senft had retired. After forty-seven years of looking after the kids of Brookline, the only Director many Brookliners had ever known was no longer part of their daily lives.

Chuck had moved on to the quiet life with his family on the North Side. Although no longer active in a coaching capacity, Chuck is still very involved in the local boxing community. He still frequents the fight clubs and can often be found mingling with friends and former associates near ringside.

Chuck Senft cuts a ribbon at the dedication
of the Fitness Facility at Brookline Park.
Chuck cuts a ribbon during the Fitness Center dedication at
the Brookline Recreation Center on December 4, 2010.

After a seven-year absence, Chuck returned to the Brookline Memorial Recreation Center on December 4, 2010, for the dedication of Citipark's newest Fitness Facility. The new gym is located on the lower level of the Recreation Center building that was Chuck's home for thirty-two years. The Fitness Center has completely altered the look of the Recreation Center, but Chuck still looked much the same as he did during his four decades as Director. It was great to have him back, if only for a day.

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Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Hall of Fame Induction
April 16, 2010

The Four Horsemen - John Robinson,
Tony Tarentino, Chuck Senft and James Gruber.    Chuck Senft, Mike Bayens and Bob Healy.
Left - The Four Horsemen - John Robinson, Tony Tarentino, Chuck Senft and James Gruber;
Right - Chuck Senft, Mike Bayens and Bob Healy.

It was a great night for Chuck.    Mark Daley, Chuck Senft, Dave Healy,
 Bill Anderson, Michelle Underwood and Mike Bayens.
Chuck celebrates with friends and former boxers, including Mark Daley, Dave Healy,
Bill Anderson, Michelle Underwood-Trapolsi, Bob Healy and Mike Bayens.

In April of 2010, Chuck Senft was elected to the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Hall of Fame, along with John D. Robinson, Tony Tarentino and James Gruber. Together, these four legendary coaches were known as "The Four Horsemen." They are the winningest coaches in Golden Gloves history. The inscription on the award read: In recognition for your unselfish commitment to the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Program and the spirit which you have helped it to grow in Pennsylvania. - April 2010.

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Do They Have Boxing In Heaven?

Chuck Senft spent the last few years of his life enjoying his retirement with his wife Rozella and daughter Terry. He was also a regular attendee at local boxing events, a place where he was always treated like royalty by his friends, associates and former students.

Chuck Senft gathers with his Angels in late-2015.
Coach Chuck Senft gathers with some of his Angels in November 2015. Click on image
for a 10-minute video showing Chuck and his Angels reminiscing.

<A Ten Minute Video of Chuck and His Angels - November 2015>

Charles E. Senft passed away on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Those who knew Chuck will always remember him as a father figure, mentor and kind-hearted man who always wanted to help. His unselfish commitment to the children and community of Brookline endeared him to generations.

Although he is no longer with us, Chuck's influence, his legacy, will always be close to us in our hearts and memories, and it is a certainty that Chuck Senft is looking down upon us from his heavenly perch, most likely with the "Theme From Rocky" playing in the background. By the way, do they have boxing in heaven?

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Chuck Senft- In Memory Of A Great Man
by Matt Wohlfarth - July 30, 2016

What can I say about a man who dedicated his life to serving others? Sure he took a paycheck but Chuck never took a short cut when it came to running a boxing club, a basketball league or anything that kept young kids minds busy and away the tough streets of Pittsburgh.

Chuck’s tornado type nature had no middle ground. You were either in or out. With Chuck, there was only one way to do the right thing. I knew Chuck Senft when I was a young boy who was too short and too skinny for football. My friend, Stevie Simms, took me down to the gym and I found my home. With the constant blaring of the theme from Rocky echoing throughout the gym, Chuck Senft did something special he made an individual sport into a team effort. The young men, many who were missing father’s or parents in their lives, forged a bond and found a home at the Brookline Boxing Club. Sure we liked the trophies, but what everyone yearned for was that Brookline Boxing jacket at the end of the season. We sold boosters door to door to earn enough money to get that jacket. We sported the M proudly which stood for Moore Park, but we told people it meant “muscle heads” according to Davie Healy who went on to become one of the best welders that Boilermaker’s Union has ever known.

We cheered for each other when fought and we congratulated each other when we won and consoled each other when we lost. We respected each other when we fought each other for a championship. Chuck built a team, he instilled responsibility in us, he built our self-esteem that told us life doesn’t happen to us, we happen to life. He garnered in us a fire that I still hear echoing in my head that no matter what your background let it be you who changes the world. Let it be you who becomes a great boxing coach who gets seen on ESPN, let it be you who becomes a highly respected police officer or welder or electrician or cement finisher or fireman or Boilermaker. Whatever you do let it be you who makes a great difference in the world. You might not change the whole world but you can certainly change your little corner of it.

The Brookline Boxing club were brothers. We were called Charlie’s Angels and we weren’t angels. We were all forged and brought together by a man who saw a need to keep kids active in a time of drugs and crime. Not so much different from today as we look at it. His goal to let them know that they could choose to do the right thing no matter what pressures society tried to impose on you. We were captains of our soul. Charlie’s Angels were a different breed we would and could exert our will on the world through hard work, persistence, and patience.

Boxing is a great metaphor for life as can be attested to by the Rocky movies. But there is some fault in the logic of boxing. If a fighter loses a couple fights they are told that it’s over for them. As I look back on Chuck’s life and the effect it had on everyone. You might think to Chuck it was all about the trophies (Over 50 Championships) and the championships and the winning. Chuck would take the trophy and we would never see them again. I envisioned this shrine that Chuck would sit and think of all the things his teams accomplished in a silk robe eating a slice of Fiori’s pizza.

But as I see Chuck lying in state and hear that his trophies were just put into a room that he hardly went into- it hit me why Chuck did everything that he did for the community all those years-not to win championships but to save young lives.

It was never about the trophies. It was about the kids. For all these years, I thought Chuck was all about the winning. “Winners never quit and quitters never win,’ he would regale us with before each fight. As a fighter, I won some and I lost some, but I always wanted to put on a good show. I was missing Chuck’s main life lesson all these years.

Chuck Senft's 1979 Championship Jacket.

In the ring, Chuck’s teams certainly won championships. But Chuck’s ring was not a boxing ring it was the ring of life in our blue collar Brookline Community. And like my boxing career in Chuck’s ring of life, he thought more of his losses than his wins. The kids who went to jail or died or just stayed on the street. The kids Chuck couldn’t save. That’s what bothered Chuck the most. For me it was pulling a “No Mas” before Roberto Duran. I left the fight midway through because I felt I was disrespecting the sport that meant so much to me. I had partied the night before and did like ten sit-ups. I didn't deserve to step between those two ropes and get into the ring. Chuck ripped off my shorts and made me walk to the locker room in my underwear and I was no Markie Mark. In life, when you reach a low point you teaches you lessons- it teaches what type of person you don’t want to be. That day, I learned that I didn’t want to be a quitter again.

When you lost a fight you didn't need to read it in the paper or know anything other than the look on the person's face-the hurt and disappointment didn't lie. Today, I remember the look on Chuck’s face when we were at Debor Funeral Home to celebrate the young life of Danny McKenna who left this world way too soon. Chuck had the same look as I did when I lost a fight. Chuck felt like he had lost one.

Chuck always told us, “Leave it all in the ring.” The lesson Chuck is teaching us all today is that life isn’t about winning all the time it’s about learning from your losses and setbacks-which there will be in life.

How quickly are you back in the game mentally? Do you let one knockdown define your round, your fight or your life? Chuck’s lessons are “Dust yourself off, it’s never too late to be you.” In life, you are not going to win them all and you will get knocked down and knocked out. You will lose that job, you will lose the girl, you you may not sell that book you’ve been writing, the world could tell you that you’re not good enough, but it’s only truly over when you say “I quit” and give up on yourself.

Chuck never gave up on anyone or himself. When he lost one, he dusted himself off and tried to save another one. And if you have ever been burned by doing a good deed you know how challenging that can be.

So you see folks, Chuck Senft, is a great American hero because he didn’t wait for the world to change, he saw the need for change and dove in whole-heartedly and did as much as he could do as long as he could do it to make his little corner of the world a better place. If you want to honor Chuck’s legacy and life, then jump in and try to help your community by sharing whatever gift you have whether it be boxing, poetry, comedy, welding, electrician or cement finisher. Do it as hard as you can as long as you can for whomever you can. Leave it all in the ring and don’t ever give up on yourself because you are truly the only one who can put an end to your dreams.

Chuck Senft didn’t die today. God just needed a great corner man. No Chuck didn’t die today -because his values live on forever in anyone who he’s ever coached. Chuck’s sense of right or wrong will live on forever in our hearts, our heads and our habits and in all of our children and their children. Chuck and his habits are immortal. Chuck, if your listening up there in heaven; you are not only a champion in the ring you are a champion of life. God bless you.

And after 83 years, Chuck you left it all in the ring of life. When I think about what the world needs now, no matter what neighborhood you live in, it's more brave people like Chuck.

We said goodbye to our friend, our mentor and our role model on a damp rainy day at the end of July and we played the theme for Rocky one last time as Charlie's Angels stood up a little taller and a little straighter and watched in reverence as a man who forever changed their lives was laid to rest. At that final farewell, it hit me that our mentors and role models are all going to that better place in the sky ... it's time for us to step up and be that mentor or role model and that is the best way to honor those that we admire.

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Brookliners Remember Chuck Senft

"I knew Chuck from an early age when I started going down to the Rec Center. He was always asking if I wanted to get involved in things and did get me to join the Jesse Owens Track and Field competition. I was not much for boxing or basketball. Any time I needed some help with something Chuck was always there with sound advise. My grandmother, who was a BACC member, helped Chuck with the funds for the boxing program and he was often at her house, talking for hours about this program or that program. No one seemed more sincere about their concern for the community kids. Later in life, I had the pleasure of working with Chuck at the Rec Center (2001-2003) in the years before his retirement. He was getting old and had some health issues, but never wavered in his committment to the kids. He taught me some good lessons on how to be a good Recreation Leader and just how to be a good person. After he retired, we talked as friends several times. He missed the park and the kids so much. You could just hear it in his voice, that longing to come back and be a part of Brookline Recreation. Chuck may have seemed like a rough, tough guy to some, but this man was a kind and gentle person, with a big heart, and he really cared about each and every one of us. It makes me sad to know that he is no longer with us, but I know that if there is a heaven, then he is looking down upon us." - Clint Burton.

"Mr. Senft had a long association with the youth of Brookline. He was involved at with the Brookline Boxing Club for many years, first at Moore Park and then at the Brookline Community Center. Chuck was an excellent role model for Brookline's youth. I remember him always being the heart and sole of the community center. I took boxing lessons from Chuck as youth and never forgot the lessons of life and the art of boxing he instilled in me and so many others." - Scott Price.

"Chuck was my first role model and mentor and I was one of his first multiple boxing champions out of Moore in the mid-60's. Some of you may remember me as "Butch". I stayed in touch and visited Chuck every year I visited Brookline and he met my two sons. I passed on his teaching to my sons and daughter and they became champion athletes. In a long letter he wrote to me a few years ago, he mentioned that he coached over 5,000 kids in boxing. Each of us has him to thank for instilling in us the will to win, to have grit, and to push ourselves to perform at our highest level. Chuck was a great man, an Icon in Brookline, and he will be missed." - Jonathan Liebman.

"Chuck was my first boss! I worked at Moore Park as a Rec Leader during my senior year in high school as well as my freshman/sophomore years in college. Chuck displayed ethics and integrity in all that he did. I was blessed to know and work with him!" - Marguerite Luvara.

"Chuck was one of the most amazing men I have ever met. I was so blessed to have had him as a trainer. He help me win many of my Golden glove tournaments. He also ran the adult basketball summer leagues that I was involved in. Chuck will be missed. Love and thank you for everything." - Joe Kellington.

"Chuck Senft will be deeply missed! Thank you Chuck for teaching all of us so many valuable life lessons!" - Mike Trapolsi.

"Chuck is a Brookline legend. He did so much good for kids that transcended boxing. Great man!" - Robert Forster.

"One of the greatest men to influence me and be part of my life. Thank you Chuck for everything." - Robert Mazzeo Sr.

"He gave his life to the youth of Brookline. Chuck was a truly devoted man." - Maria Colonna Sekura.

"Everyone knows him from boxing. But he had Brookline dominating the city in track, hoops, flag football, even volleyball. He was amazing. His men's summer hoop league was incredible. He'd pull out this old record player and play the "Theme from Rocky" and "Eye of the Tiger" when we warmed up. We were thirty but we loved it." - John Lee.

"He was always there for us." - Bob Anderson.

"He was Brookline. My son also took some boxing lessons over at the center with Chuck." - Donna Bunce Demsey.

"Chuck was part of the old school Brookline that we love and cherish. With his passing we not only lost a great man, but we also lost a part of Brookline's history." - Jaison Viglietta.

"Chuck was a definitely a fixture at the Center. I was lucky enough to be influenced by him to join his boxing club. I remember we were all outside playing basketball and Chuck came out asking if any of us ever considered fighting, with gloves on. He asked us to stop in that evening and give it a go. So a bunch of us did. He not only taught us technique, but he taught us discipline and to have confidence in ourselves, along with an unmistakable pride for Brookline, not to mention having the Rocky theme imbedded into your ear for life. I’ll forever be grateful to have met Chuck and to be a part of Charlie’s Angels. He was truly one-of-kind and should be honored." - Mark Molinaro.

"I first got to know Chuck when I trained for a couple of months with the Brookline boxing team at Moore Park. Let's just say I didn't have a particular talent for the sport. But Chuck was always encouraging, and had a vast knowledge of the game. He should be a Hall of Famer just for all the boxing trophies he brought back to Brookline over the years. In the 70's, I worked for Chuck at the Rec Center, one of the best summers of my life." - Dan Malloy.

Terry Sullivan's Moore Boxing Club Letter.
Terry Sullivan's Moore Boxing Club Letter.

"I won my first of nine championships under the guidance of Chuck in 1969, and my last championship under Chuck's coaching in 2002. Chuck is a legend." - Terry Sullivan.

"Chuck is one of the original members of the Department of Parks and Recreation. I haven't worked there in a long time, but, there are some handwritten historical pieces and there may be something about the department origins. I am not sure if he was among the very first but he was an early member of the playground recreation assistants. I think originally they were called something like Green Men because they wore their military uniforms. And, Chuck told me himself how they used to make balls for kids to play with out of newspaper and tape and found wood for bats. Chuck liked to talk once he got started, so I'm guessing people who worked with him every day have lots of stories to tell. He's noted for bringing boxing to kids in the city, but his contribution was bigger than one sport." - Denise McConnell.

"This doesn’t have anything to do with sports but I met Chuck when a friend and I were at Moore. He approached us about a summer camp for girls at North Park. He gave us the information and permission slip and told us to return it in about a week. My parents signed it and we enthusiastically met up with Chuck. Arrangements were made and Chuck even offered to drive a few of us to Camp Irwin. He was the nicest guy and made the ride up there a great time. He had this huge convertible at the time. He stayed at the camp until we were comfortable and left. He came back with groceries and then the last day picked us up and drove us back to Moore. When I think back it was a really great memory. I can’t even imagine parents allowing this to happen without a full investigation. Chuck was a real gentleman" - Arlene Cotter Halloran.

"Played tag football with Chuck in a pick up game at Moore Field in the early 1960s and had a great time. Wish I had done a better blocking job for him but it was a lot of fun playing with Jimmy Thomas and all the Brookline guys. I went to South Hills High School and really hope we can get something done for Chuck." - Joseph Skaris.

"When I was 19-20 years old Chuck took time daily to help me learn how to box. I was a broke kid, lost and with no where to go. Through boxing with him I feel it made me the man I am today. I remember running around that court listening to that Rocky song. I remember when I got knocked down for the first time, Chuck asked, “did you get up?” These days for me were a life lesson. I will always have a place for him and the other coaches in my heart." - J.J. Neiport

"He taught me boxing, although not very well. I put the gloves on against Johnny Davis one night at Moore Park and he darned near knocked me out! That was the end of my boxing career. But we always had fun with Chuck he could make you laugh. I can’t even imagine how many lives he touched and how many of us he kept from going down the wrong road! He deserves a lot more than a Plaque or a Bench. Almost fifty years of working with kids. WOW! And I know he loved doing it. I know a whole lot of people who would agree with me." - Tom Long

"He mentored my brother Danny McKenna who enjoyed boxing back in the day. What great memories for our family." - Jim Beveridge

"Chuck was such a mentor. He made us all young men who were able to fend for ourselves and stick up for the less fortunate! I could go on and on ... what a great guy!" - Brian Phillips

"I didn't meet Chuck until long after he retired. What I remember though is that he spoke so highly of the Brookline Community and the Rec Center. He really enjoyed working there and loved meeting all of the kids and parents." - Judy Lynn

"I started boxing for him in 1967 and I stayed with him until right before I went into the Marine Corps. What I learned from Chuck, and the training I got through Chuck, helped me throughout my career in the Marine Corps. I was always blessed with outstanding coaches, and he was the best." - retired Marine Corps boxer and Gunnery Sergeant Mike Bayens.

"It's not all about the boxing program with Chuck. It's about people, relationships and kids. There's the basketball championships, the flag football championships, the soccer. I mean Chuck would call kids non-stop, tracking kids down. When I worked with him, if we worked eight hours a day we'd spend seven calling kids. He'd be like, 'Hey John, go up on the boulevard and grab this kid. This kid's in trouble, go get him. Call this one ... Do this." We'd have community service programs. If kids got in trouble they'd come down and work. Chuck would have them in the ring. 'You think you're tough. Here, throw the headgear on.'" - John Ladasky

"Chuck took care of us. My brother and I started boxing in 1971. We fought down there for twenty-five years and nobody looked out for us better. He was our adopted father. I respect that." - Dave Healy

"Chuck just had such an influence on so many of us and so many people. The best thing that ever happened to me and my brother was moving to Brookline and getting involved with Chuck and the boxing program." - Bob Healy Jr

Charlies Angels after 1977 Golden Gloves championship.

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A Lasting Tribute To Chuck Senft

On Saturday, May 5, 2018, the late-Chuck Senft was honored once more with the installation of a bronze memorial plaque at the Brookline Recreation Center, where he was Recreation Director from 1971 to 2003. The building was his home away from home, and a place where he worked so diligently for the community of Brookline.

Chuck had passed away on July 25, 2016 at the age of eighty-three. Friends for former associates soon began petitioning City Council to authorize some sort of lasting tribute to a man who gave so much of his life to the Department of Parks and Recreation. Those efforts culminated in the casting of this beautiful plaque.

It was a great day for the Senft family, his wife Rosella and daughter Terry, Chuck's former co-workers and his beloved Angels, many of whom were in attendance wearing the black Brookline Boxing Club shirts. Several speakers took some time to talk about the effort and dedication Chuck put into both his job and his boxing club, each speaking from the heart. Councilman Anthony Coghill then presented Mrs. Senft with a proclamation declaring May 5, 2018 "Chuck Senft Day" in the city of Pittsburgh.

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

After the speakers had finished, the crowd moved to the Recreation Center lobby for the unveiling of the bronze memorial. When the paper cover was removed, the crowd cheered and the tearful look of joy in Mrs. Rosella Senft's eyes said it all. It was one final victory for the coach, and a moment that will last in the minds of everyone present.

The thought that Chuck will forever be a part of the Recreation Center, and his motto "a winner never quits and a quitter never wins" can now inspire future generations of Brookline kids the same way it did for all of those who were taught by the Hall of Fame coach and mentor. The only thing missing was the theme from "Rocky" playing in the background, but we're sure the song flashed through almost everyone's mind at one time or another that day.

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Sponsored by the City of Pittsburgh, Councilman Anthony Coghill, Donald Dorsey, Michelle "Mickey" Trapolsi-Underwood and Clint Burton, designed by Doug Brendel and cast locally at Matthews Bronze*, the plaque will stand as a reminder to everyone who visits the Community Center of what a fine man Chuck was, and how much he meant to his friends in Brookline. Others who contributed to the creation of the memorial were Moira Kaleida, Mike Radley, State Representative Harry Readshaw, State Senator Wayne Fontana, U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle, Kathy Rudolph, Joe Szymanski, Bobby Mazzeo and Citiparks Director Ross Chapman.

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18    Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

Dedication of the Chuck Senft Memorial Plaque - 5/5/18

* The bronze plaque was cast with love and affection by one of Chuck Senft's former boxers,
and now an employee of Matthews Bronze, Kevin McAndrews.

This page has been compiled over time by Clint Burton - Last updated: July 22, 2019.

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