Alumni Issue: Steve Paternostro heading up esports at Alfred

Friday, October 11th, 2019 at 11:36 AM
Alumni Issue: Steve Paternostro heading up esports at Alfred by Erica Burkholder
Steve Paternostro working with an athlete. | Contributed Photo

Head cross country coach.

Head track and field coach.

Esports director.

It’s safe to say Steven ‘Steve’ Paternostro wears many hats in his current life at Alfred State College.

Before post-grad though, it’s important to set the stage.

Paternostro competed for Edinboro in track and field for one indoor and one outdoor season. Before ‘Boro, he found himself at Erie Community College (ECC) and the State University of New York at Fredonia, as his athletic career was a bit of a “rollercoaster.” His mother died his freshman year, and he then decided ECC would be better as it put him closer to home. From ECC, he was drawn to Edinboro by former Cross Country and Track and Field Head Coach Doug Watts, along with his friend Nick Stenuf.

During his time with the Fighting Scots, Paternostro earned All-PSAC and All-NCAA regional honors in the decathlon. While competing, he was also a volunteer assistant.

“Coach Watts really embraced me, helping out with some of my peers ... and [with] small things here and there,” he said.

After graduating, Paternostro first took a job at Geico, until he became a coach at Daemen University (sprinting and jumps).

“Ever since I was younger, I had this plan to be a track and field coach.”

In 2016 he ended up at Alfred State College as an assistant coach. Several months later, he became the interim head coach of the track and field and cross country programs.

When asked how it felt to get the interim tag, “the doors opened up,” and he thought, “oh my god, it’s happening, it’s actually happening.”
As an interim head coach, he led the women’s cross country team to the American Collegiate Athlete Association (ACAA) championship, along with the men landing in second place. He was named ACAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2017.

“I knew I was doing everything right. I’m not saying I deserved it, but with the work I had put in, I really felt like this should go my way...[and] luck of the draw — everything turned out in my favor.”

He led both the men’s and women’s cross country teams to 2nd place finishes in 2018, and was once again named ACAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. He also coached four Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) winners during this time.

Looking at the awards and championships, you wouldn’t realize Paternostro was given a team that “was a shell of what it used to be.’’
At first, he didn’t even have enough athletes to field a cross country team. He’d scrounge around campus for anyone with a track and field or cross country shirt. He went to different sports practices to look for people willing to join track and field (basketball for jumpers, baseball for javelin, football for wherever they’d fit in).

“It was a miracle that we had enough talent on campus already for me to pull it out of the woodwork,” said Paternostro. He credits Watts’ training for helping him coach the team into winning shape; that and a bit of luck. This year, he has his first recruiting class and hopes for an All-American.

While coaching two teams throughout the year, he’s also the new esports director for Alfred State College’s program.

Paternostro first got into esports through “StarCraft 2” and (precursor to Twitch). He’d go home after practice and instead of watching sports, he’d watch video game streams.

Then, a friend convinced him to check out “League of Legends,” he loved it, and he coached a few Edinboro students in “League” during his senior year here.

He brought up esports to the Alfred State athletic director, and after some explaining and discussion with campus leaders, he set about finding competitive players for “Overwatch.”

Now, they have 8 teams and 55 players. Their “Overwatch” team (as of print) is 3-1 in preseason matchups, and they placed 6th in their region last year and 81st in Tespa. In preseason Tespa rankings, they’re 49th.

Paternostro likes the change of pace that esports offers from the other teams he coaches.

“When I go to esports, it’s like me going home. The culture is different; I can use my nerd jokes and they actually get it,” he said.

In regard to esports, he “fell in love with the idea that anyone can be the best if you just put in the time.” He explained how “it is not about any genetic predispositions one may have (being bigger, taller, or faster) but [it’s] their love for something like a video game that makes them great.”
Paternostro also makes digital media content for Alfred State College, adding even more to a full plate. He’s “100% self taught” and was inspired by the fact that there were no pictures of his teams when competing.

He started making content at Daemen, then it “blew up as a bit of a hobby” and now he does sports photography, videography and is transitioning to managing social media.  

“If I want to be successful, I have to sacrifice a couple things and if its a couple hours out of my day then its a couple hours out of my day,” said Paternostro. He joked that he goes “operation be hard to get fired, if they fire me they have to hire three new people.” 

Paternostro holds many titles and credits his work ethic to cross country and track as he never wanted to go home after practice. Years later and he still has that ethic with not only coaching track and field, cross country, but with esports and digital media as well.  

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