Former UConn player takes reigns of Quaker Valley girls program
When Jill Brumbaugh heard about the girls basketball coach opening at Quaker Valley, she couldn't pass up the opportunity.
“There just seems to be such a high value placed upon both academics and athletics,” the Center Township resident said.
Brumbaugh was previously the coach at Claysburg-Kimmel in Blair County from 2010-12. She led the Bulldogs to a 26-20 mark over two seasons, including a 22-10 mark in the Inter-County Conference North. She led the team to the postseason both seasons after a four-year playoff drought.
“My niece played for the team and had called me and told basketball wasn't fun anymore,” Brumbaugh said. “It broke my heart, and I wanted to help the team. Once I got back in the gym, it energized me. I caught basketball fever.”
Brumbaugh was a standout player for Claysburg-Kimmel in the early 1980s. She is third on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,592 points.
She continued her playing career at the University of Connecticut and started four seasons for legendary coach Geno Auriemma. She led the Huskies in assists all four years, steals in three seasons and free throw percentage in two seasons.
“She has an extensive background in the sport,” Quaker Valley athletic director Mike Mastrioanni said. “She is a good fit for the girls.”
Brumbaugh replaces Jim Dudas, who resigned after completing the 2012-13 season. Dudas served as head coach of the Quakers for three seasons, finishing with a 42-29 mark — including 27-9 in section play — and led the team to its first section title in 31 years in 2011-12.
In its debut in Class AAA this past season, Quaker Valley finished 13-10 overall and 8-4 in Section 5 competition.
“He did a tremendous job,” Mastrioanni said. “He had three successful seasons here, and we are extremely thankful.”
Brumbaugh spoke highly of Mastrioanni and the help and support he has provided as she transitions into coaching both the varsity and middle school programs.
“I think that will help me get familiar with both the school district and the kids,” Brumbaugh said. “When the eighth graders come up to the varsity level, it will help because they will understand the system.”
Brumbaugh said she likes to have a team that plays strong defense that leads to transition baskets but said she still needs to see what she has to work with before she commits to a certain style of play. She said she was scheduled to meet with the Quakers earlier this week.
As the team approaches the start of the season in December, she will look to the players to set the goals they want to achieve.
“I will need to sit down with the girls and see what they are committed to doing,” Brumbaugh said. “My job will be to get them there, whether that is winning the WPIAL or whatever else they want to do.
“I want to focus the team in the direction they want to go and lead them to the outcome they want.”