Gino Santoro – The Man Behind the Mop

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Gino Santoro – The Man Behind the Mop

Brad Rosenberger

Gino with his famous traschcan on wheels, always accompanied by a smile

Alison Wallach, Staff Writer

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As if dancing to Italian music while cleaning up the lunchroom floor wasn’t enough to make the man unique, Gino Santoro, famed in the halls of North Penn High School as the custodian with the boom box, has a past that’s worthy of Hollywood’s silver screen.

So detailed is his story, that Gino admittedly could only provide me with the, “abbreviated version” of his interesting tale that takes us on as journey through three different countries. Although born in Italy and proud of his authentic Italian heritage, Gino moved to Germany at the age of fourteen to work as a bartender in a restaurant his father owned in that country. Working in this setting enabled him to pick up the German language rather easily, making it one of the four languages of which he can speak fluently, along with Italian, Spanish, and “broken” English.

 In 1976, at the age of eighteen, Gino came to America for the first time, accompanied by his father, two brothers, and sister. For his first 10 years in America, our beloved custodian worked with his uncle’s masonary business before he landed a position at Penndale Middle School as a groundskeeper. Gino went on to spend another ten years at Penndale, doubling as a soccer coach for four years, during which he only witnessed a single loss.

“The only time we lost was to Methacton, and the only girl on their team scored the winning goal. The next day, the boys had to do a lot of running,” Gino remembers with a chuckle.

 Coaching Penndale’s team is not the extent of Gino’s soccer career. In fact, he considered becoming a professional soccer player at one point in his life.

“In Italy when you’re young, it’s the first sport you play and love. I was the oldest though and I had to help my family financially and help my sick mother,” says Gino regarding his ultimate decision not to pursue soccer professionally.

 Nevertheless, soccer has been and continues to be a passion of Gino’s. When living in Germany, he played for a team, and upon moving to Philadelphia, he tried out for a citywide soccer team but was rejected for being “too short.” Determined to find an outlet for his love of the sport, Gino went on to play for a semi-pro Ukrainian team of the United Soccer League, through which he won multiple championships. While he admits he retired from the sport about 10 years ago, our very own quasi professional athlete continues to “kick the ball around at Pennfield with a bunch of guys sometimes” and supports all North Penn teams. Although he enjoys watching all sports, the World Cup did not prove to be his favorite thing to tune in to, as he was admittedly a little embarrassed to be Italian due to the team’s poor performance.

 With such a history, one might think coming to North Penn every day would be a bore. On the contrary, Gino thoroughly enjoys his job             .

 “I like to work with young people and everybody’s nice on the staff… I enjoy coming to work every day,” explains Gino.

  Athletic accomplishments aside, North Penn’s proud and lucky to have such a friendly face around the halls, and a man who is committed to work he doesn’t mind getting up each morning to do. So here’s to you, Gino, we appreciate all that you do and keep on dancing to that Italian music!

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