ShareThis Page

Norwin soccer coach makes nice transition

| Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009

Danielle Baginski got her introduction to Norwin girls soccer while scouting the team for a PIAA Class AAA playoff game last season.

She obviously did her job well, as her Erie McDowell team handed the Knights a 1-0 loss at Harbor Creek High School.

Now nine games into her first season coaching on the Norwin sideline, she's beginning to realize just how hard it is to coach in the WPIAL as compared to District 10.

"Being from District 10, I was always looking to see what was going on down here, and it's funny because people will talk to me and say 'You don't know anything about Western Pennsylvania soccer,' or 'Welcome to the WPIAL,' but the fact is we do this, but we're just in our own little corner, and this is a bigger area," Baginski said. "The competition obviously is a lot better than it is up there. You have a handful of teams (in Erie), and that's about it."

Baginski came to Norwin after coaching four years at McDowell where she won back-to-back District 10 championships in 2007 and 2008. She replaced longtime coach Dana Ferry, whose contract was not renewed following that loss to McDowell.

In nine years at Norwin, Ferry's teams were 164-39-7 with four Section 1-AAA titles. Despite regular-season success, his teams could not ascend to the height of the program when it won its only PIAA crown in 1996 and appeared in the state title game again in 1997.

Ferry's best postseason finish came in 2004 with losses to Moon in both the WPIAL championship match and the PIAA semifinals. His divisive style led to parents campaigning both for and against his dismissal until the Norwin school board finally opened the position after his contract expired.

Though a situation like this could cause a rift in the locker room and considerable angst directed at the person selected to replace a coach who left under such circumstances, the players themselves have been quick to welcome Baginski.

"Everything's different, and everybody has a very good attitude about what's going on and what happened," senior midfielder Ariel Shasko said. "Even though our parents got involved, we don't hate each other for it; there's no hard feelings, and we just moved on."

Whatever turmoil there may have been over Ferry's departure and Baginski's hiring has not shown up on the field. Norwin (8-1-0, 6-0-0) is in first place in the section as it heads to Penn-Trafford (5-3-1, 4-1-0) at 7 p.m. Monday for the first of their two meetings this season.

Baginski has not been a part of the Norwin/Penn-Trafford rivalry, but she doesn't expect to have any problem getting into the spirit of things. In fact, she has her own axe to grind with the Warriors, who eliminated McDowell in the first round of the 2007 PIAA Class AAA playoffs on their way to a state finals berth.

"This is a revenge game for me as well, so I'm getting excited," Baginski said, laughing. "I'll get excited, and the kids will get excited because, if we as coaches are excited the kids also get excited, and if we're just kind of nonchalant the kids will (feed off) that."

Still, though Norwin does have a win over highly regarded Bethel Park and lost a one-goal game to Peters Township, Baginski hasn't been involved in this rivalry as yet despite playing Penn-Trafford at McDowell. And her players are aware of it.

"I don't think she knows what she's in for yet," senior defender Sam Vasy said. "She'll find out on Monday."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.