Niederberger steps down as Burrell boys basketball coach
Rob Niederberger still has the drive to coach basketball; he just can't handle the drive to get to his team any longer.
Niederberger resigned as boys basketball coach at Burrell less than a month after guiding the Buccaneers to the WPIAL Class AA championship game.
Much like Harry Rideout, another local boys coach who gave similar reasons when he resigned from Kiski Area earlier this month, Niederberger wants to be closer to his young family and save on gas money.
A teacher at Butler High School, Niederberger, 32, lives in the North Hills and routinely was making a drive of 45 minutes to an hour to Lower Burrell.
He and his wife, Carrie, have two children, Robert (21 months), and Rose (four months).
“My wife and I talked, and it's just too hard with the kids,” Niederberger said. “I need to do what's best for my family. I also help take care of my dad.
“It was a rewarding year for us (at Burrell), but something had to give. There's no teaching job at Burrell. It's never a good time (to leave), but I felt like it was time.”
His father, Bob, has multiple sclerosis.
Niederberger led Burrell (19-8) to one of its best seasons, just two years after a 4-18 mark in his first year in Class AAA. The Bucs, who started this year's WPIAL playoffs in the preliminary round, upset No. 2 seed Greensburg Central Catholic and No. 6 Quaker Valley to reach the title game, where they lost to eventual state champion Beaver Falls.
Burrell hadn't been to the finals since 1979.
It also appeared briefly in the state playoffs, where the Bucs hadn't been in 12 years.
A former assistant at Butler and Vincentian, Niederberger went 33-37 in three seasons. When he took the Burrell job, he had to replace seven seniors. Now he has to say goodbye to a talented group of nine seniors who recharged the program.
“We created excitement here,” Niederberger said. “We had an unbelievable year. I appreciate all the support I got from Burrell. (Principal) John Boylan took a chance on me. I'd like to think it worked out for the both of us.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.