DALLAS — Jack Monick says he is “just a piece of the puzzle” and that he walks in shoes much bigger than his, but the executive director of the Keystone State Games calls him “amazing,” adding that he goes above and beyond for the annual event.
For more than 30 years now, Monick has been volunteering with the Keystone State Games, overseeing several sports.
The games begin next Friday, July 26, and will run through July 29, and the following weekend of Aug. 1-4.
KSG Executive Director James Costello said 3,000 to 3,500 athletes are expected to participate. He said this is a non-senior games year, noting that when the seniors compete, another 1,200 to 1,500 participants register for the games.
Costello’s father, Owen J. Costello, was the first executive director of the Keystone State Games from the beginning in 1981 until he passed away in 2015.
The 38th annual Keystone State Games Festival of Sports will be hosted throughout Luzerne County. The Keystone State Games, modeled after the Olympic Games, are Pennsylvania’s largest annually held multi-sport competitions providing the state’s amateur athletes an opportunity to compete against athletes from throughout the Commonwealth and beyond and promotes all of the positive aspects of amateur sports.
Costello said since its inception in 1981, Keystone State Games Inc. has attracted more than 500,000 participants of various age groups into a variety of sporting events.
And Costello said the success of the games depends largely on the volunteers — people like Monick.
“Jack has been outstanding,” Costello said. “From my perspective — and I’ve been around for a long time — the Keystone State Games are based on volunteers — (close to 800) — coming together to dedicate their time to helping to put on the amateur sports they enjoy — some 28 sports this year. And Jack Monick goes well above and beyond what our volunteers do. Jack actually works with us to oversee the entire games. Like I said, Jack is an amazing person.”
Monick, however, is not one to brag and he will tell you he is just one person who is part of a much larger army of volunteers.
“I’ve just stepped into much larger shoes of those who came before me — people like my dad,” Monick said. “I’ve learned to know and appreciate the importance of volunteering and giving back.”
Monick, who served as athletic director at Penn State Wilkes-Barre for 26 years, said he has a favorite quote about teamwork.
“I tell everybody that George Washington would never have crossed the Delaware if he didn’t have everybody rowing in the same direction,” Monick said. “What that means is that we all do something for the big picture and the big picture is the Keystone State Games.”
Monick said his dad was a member of the Kingston Pool Committee that built the Kingston pool some 50 years ago.
“I look at that pool today and it’s still a great facility that just gets better every year,” Monick said. “And it has benefited the community so much for so long. My dad was my role model. He was one of many who dedicated their lives to assure we had the best opportunities in this area.”
Monick said he is “just a piece of the puzzle — a big network of community leaders who dedicated their lives to offer kids like me things to do to keep us off the streets.”
Monick said the volunteers and staff of the Keystone State Games do much for the participants and the community. From the medals that are awarded to the recruiters who scout the games, along with coaches and officials, to those who help secure hotel rooms and assist visitors in finding restaurants, venues and more.
“It’s such a large network,” Monick said. “It’s why I’m still involved. This is such a great event that they put on every year.”
Monick said in addition to his father, he was influenced by people like Owen Costello, Walter Allabaugh, George “Doc” Moses, Pat Burke and many more — parents, teachers and coaches.
“They were always there to help their community,” Monick said. “They created that big network.”
Monick said volunteers are special people who don’t work for money — they help because they want to better their community.
“Volunteers are critical to keep Wyoming Valley a great place,” Monick said. “I had great opportunities in my life and now I’m happy to help do something for thousands of participants in the Keystone Games.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.