Alumni Issue 2020: John 'JP' Chakot maintains 'Boro ties 50 years later

Friday, October 16th, 2020 at 2:32 PM
Alumni Issue 2020: John 'JP' Chakot maintains 'Boro ties 50 years later by Jacob Brooks

Can someone’s blood type be “Royal Stewart tartan plaid”? No? We should test John “JP” Chakot just in case. 

Let’s just say Chakot has ‘Boro in his blood. He played for a powerhouse Edinboro football team and is still deeply connected with the university five decades after he graduated.  

Starting at the beginning, Chakot lived a fairly typical childhood. He grew up roughly an hour northeast of Pittsburgh, in Indiana, the oldest of two boys. In fact, his younger brother George also attended Edinboro University and was also on the football team. His mother worked as a psychiatrist aide at a local hospital, while his father was employed by PennDOT, often working alongside the interstate. 

Chakot graduated from Edinboro in spring 1973 with a bachelor’s in secondary education. He would return in 1976 to pursue his master’s in counseling, which he completed the following year. 

Perhaps the highlight of Chakot’s time at Edinboro would be fall 1970: his sophomore year. It was his first season playing for the Fighting Scots football team. He’d played football throughout high school and competed on Edinboro’s freshman football team the year prior. But he was in the big leagues now. 

That season, ‘Boro football was a team to be reckoned with. In fact, it was their first undefeated regular season. By the end of the year, the team had a long list of achievements, including their win of the Lambert Bowl. According to Edinboro Sports Information, “The Lambert Bowl in 1970 was given annually to the best NAIA Division III football team in the East.” 

“Oh, it was amazing,” Chakot said of the win. And it was that victory that's kept him connected to Edinboro all these years later. 

Since graduating, Chakot has spent most of his career in education: first as a teacher, then as a guidance counselor often working with middle and high school students. He also coached football at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for more than 20 years, pairing that with a gig coaching his own kids’ high school football team at Indiana High School. 

Chakot is married to his wife of 35 years, Mary Jane. They have three adult children, all in their 30s.  

He retired from education and from the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District (covering portions of Indiana and Westmoreland counties) in 2008. 

Chakot had two things to say about retirement: “Other than getting old, it’s not a bad gig.” But, he added, “When you retire, you get interested in doing [other] things.”  

Here’s where his college football days come back into play. 

These days, Chakot is the “steward” of the 1970 Lambert Bowl Championship Team Scholarship. Each year, one Edinboro football player is selected by their head coach to receive the scholarship. As of August, there was $35,000 in the endowment, according to Jon Pulice, director of athletic development at the university advancement officeChakot explained that there are some “former teammates that contribute on a regular basis” to the scholarship. He says it’s growing slowly, but nonetheless, “we’re making progress on it.” The scholarship was started in 2002 and was first given out in 2008. Since then, it has been awarded to 11 different players.

Chakot also stays in touch with his teammates from Edinboro. He said playing football helped him create lifelong friendships, while winning the Lambert Bowl only pushed that further. “(It) gave you a commonality,” he said. “You kind of build a relationship that never goes away. It’s kind of neat.” 

Chakot and his team were planning to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of their Lambert Bowl win at Edinboro’s Homecoming this month. The pandemic has forced them to move the celebration to next fall. 

He certainly hasn’t lost touch with Edinboro alumni during the pandemic. In fact, during a recent week, he spoke to nearly 10 former Fighting Scots over the phone. 

In short, a lot can keep us connected to our alma mater. Whether it be the professors, the friends we make along the way, or perhaps meeting your future spouse. But for some, it’s a trophy and the love of football. 

Jacob Brooks is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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