Divorce educated Larry and Lori Kostelac.
The couple has been together 14 years, but both are on their second marriage.
“Being divorced people, we have more of an understanding of individuality,” Lori said.
It’s an important value for the couple, who have four children combined from their previous marriages and now seven grandchildren.
So who are the Kostelacs as individuals?
Larry Kostelac Jr. is the current longest tenured head basketball coach in Cumberland County. He’s won Mid-Penn Conference, District 3 and PIAA titles over nearly 40 years stalking the sidelines of the Trinity Shamrocks’ gym. He retired a few years ago from the Navy Support Activity Mechanicsburg and is part of a large family.
But he’s the well-known one.
Lori Kostelac is not a public figure like Larry. But she’s not just his wife.
Lori also works “long hours” at the Navy depot, in program management. She’s active and outdoors a lot — into biking, working out and kayaking. She comes from a large family as well. She likes “hardcore remodels,” having helped renovate her parents’ house, her sister’s, her son’s and her niece’s. She likes watching TV with their dog, Otis, and is more than comfortable home alone with a show on or cooking in the kitchen.
It’s not a public life like her husband’s, but it suits her. And it suits them.
Having that individuality allows the Kostelacs to work well together.
Lori and Larry don’t remember their first time meeting. They had similar circles that mingled at times. He knew her brother-in-law as a kid. They bumped into each other at work or in Harrisburg on occasion.
Eventually they started dating, and a little more than two years later they were married.
They bonded over similarly large families, and Lori’s was also a sports-loving group. They had similar interests.
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Lori’s son Michael was 12 and Larry’s youngest, Tyler, was 17. It was an atypical start for the new family compared to many of Larry’s younger peers who are raising babies, toddlers and kindergartners.
But they also got to skip past the young-family stage most coaching couples go through.
In a few years Lori will retire from IT, and the relationship will continue to evolve. And when Larry retires — a tough image to fathom, Trinity without its towel-waving, salt-and-pepper-haired skipper — it could evolve again.
It already has evolved to some degree. Larry, home now more than ever, can cook more and cleans the house regularly.
“I’m now a short-order cook in the mornings,” Larry said while on the phone with his wife sitting beside him. “I’m the chef at night, too.”
His specialties: scrambled eggs and coffee in the morning, Italian for dinner. He’s on a grilling kick this summer, firing up chicken and fish lately.
“I get the filet mignon, he gets the hamburger,” said Lori, herself no slouch in the kitchen, from what the couple said. “He really does a good meatloaf. I’m not a big meatloaf fan. … He does something with it that has a really good flavor.”
Lori is accustomed to a planned night together, or a lazy night in front of the TV, being disrupted by a college coach calling Larry out of the blue to inquire about one of his players. It comes with the territory, and it doesn’t bother her.
“Everybody has to understand exactly what’s all involved in the coaching business. It’s not an easy business in any way, shape or form,” Larry said. “Even times when you think and schedule downtime, I can’t tell you how many times — it just happened the other night … no sooner I walk in the door, sit down and guess what? College coaches are calling.”
“We’d be sitting here watching TV, and he’s got a group chat going on with all of his staff. They’re exchanging jokes … and sometimes he’ll laugh,” she said. “You gotta allow each person to be their own person and do their thing, and this is his thing.”
Lori said she respects Larry’s impact on his players and is comfortable with him getting pulled away at typically inopportune times to attend to a team matter.
“Having been in sports all my life, too, it certainly helped having that understanding,” she said. “There’s an investment in anybody in a family situation.”
Larry learned the importance of a coach’s spouse long before he first took over at Trinity. His father coached as well, and he saw what stresses came with the title, even at home.
“If you don’t have that supportive spouse, none of it works,” Larry said. “It puts a strain on your relationship [and your team].”