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Willie Costanza

Football ∙ Aliquippa

 

 

 

 

Aliquippa High School’s football tradition of hard-nosed-tough-as-nails players is well known. There is no better example than Willie Costanza. Willie was a versatile, full time player under legendary coach Carl Aschman for the Quips from 1957 to 1959, playing guard on offense and linebacker on defense. He was not that big but was very tough, lettering for three years and starting his last two. In his senior year (1959), he captained the Quips to the WPIAL championship game, gaining All Conference, All WPIAL, and honorable mention All State honors in the process, and being chosen to play in a Pittsburgh Jaycees All Star game. But his most cherished award was being named MVP by his teammates. Willie was recruited by the likes of Notre Dame, Arizona, and Wisconsin, but chose Minnesota because he felt it related to his Western Pennsylvania background. After redshirting his sophomore year, he went on to earn three letters and was a starter for two years, being defensive captain his senior year. Willie played alongside Carl Eller and Bobby Bell, giving the Gophers a feared defense. Excelling in all facets of the game, including special teams, Willie earned All Big Ten honors on both offense and defense and was chosen to play in the North-South All Star game. One of his proudest awards at Minnesota was his selection as the recipient of the Williams Foundation Scholarship Award, given to the athlete who excelled in the classroom. Drafted by the Denver Broncos, Willie instead entered the Navy and served in Vietnam.