Coaching must have been in his blood, because Jerry Laria's career began when he entered college as a 19 year old freshman in 1977 serving as an assistant basketball coach at Firestone High School. It was only the beginning, during his 31 year coaching career he was involved with high school basketball, baseball, football, track, cross country and softball. His first head coaching position was at Firestone in 1982-83, leading the Falcons track team. He had seven state qualifiers in '83 with five scoring points and lifting the school to a fifth place finish-the highest finish ever in the school's history. With that feather in his cap, he moved to North High School and served as assistant basketball coach for five years and also helped out on the football field. He coached the Vikings baseball team for two years racking up a 47-11 record, capturing a city Championship in '87.
Laria longed to be a head basketball coach and he finally realized his dream when he went to Garfield High School in 1989. For the next 14 years he led the Rams on the hardwood winning three City Series Titles, six sectional crowns and two district championships. His total won-lost record was 194-130, giving Laria the most wins by a basketball coach in Garfield's history.
In 2002 he returned to Firestone to head its basketball program. His teams won a City Series title, two sectional and two district crowns, racking up a 72-58 record in six years. His total basketball coaching record is 266-188, a 61 percent winning percentage.
Throughout his 31-year coaching career, Laria said his most pleasurable time was coaching his daughter in softball at Firestone. "We got to the city championship game both years, but came up short on both occasions, he said. "But it still ranks as being the most fun in all my years of coaching.
Laria has been recognized as basketball Coach of the Year by the Touchdown Club, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Northeast Inland District, twice by the Greater Akron Coaches Assn. and five times by the Akron City Series League. He was inducted into the Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011. He joins his father James "Sid" Laria who was inducted into the Summit County Hall of Fame in 1991 for his officiating career.