Pergola comes home to Ringgold
By Jeff Oliver
Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
When Phil Pergola became the boys' basketball coach and athletic director at California Area in 2004 after 18 years coaching basketball at Ringgold, he thought his days of coaching on the Class AAA level were through.
“I was really happy and comfortable at California,” Pergola said. “It was a nice situation for me. When I came here, I told them this job was no stepping stone.”
While he was happy at California, something ate away at the coach who guided the Rams through some of glory years during their once-proud tradition.
Now he is coming back to do something about it.
Pergola was hired as boys' basketball coach at Ringgold Wednesday night in a unanimous vote. He was given a four-year contract, with his first year salary set at $6,400.
“It's good to be back. This place was home for a long time,” said Pergola, who coached at Ringgold from 1986-2004. “This is not something I ever envisioned happening. I coached there 18 years. I taught in the district for 34 years. I just feel and my staff going with me just feels like we have to take a chance and see if we can't turn things around.
“I know it's going to be a challenge, but we think we can give the program some stability.”
Pergola has coached 43 years at four schools and has a career record of 579-473. He was 233-216 at Ringgold, where he guided the Rams to WPIAL Class AAAA (1990) and one PIAA Class AAAA(1995) championships.
He takes over a program that has had mostly hard times since he left.
Since Pergola's departure in 2004, Ringgold has an overall record of 64-152, including 8-35 the last two seasons under former coach Pete Logan, who announced he was stepping down before the end of the 2012-13 season with a year left on his contract.
Pergola, who offered to stay on as the athletic director at California, said his decision has nothing to do with his tenure at California.
“Everybody at California has been so supportive, and really I never looked for any other job since I came here and I didn't look for (the Ringgold) job, either,” he said. “I believe the program at California is in good shape.”
Also hired at Wednesday's meeting was Laura Grimm as the school's varsity girls' basketball coach.
Grimm, a star player at Serra Catholic and later at Colgate University, had been serving as junior varsity coach at Baldwin since 2011.
She holds Serra's record for career points (1,940), 3-pointers (283), steals (391) and assists (497).
A 2005 Serra grad, Grimm led the Lady Eagles to four WPIAL championship appearances, winning two of them.
Grimm, 24, said she is “more than excited” about getting the Ringgold job as her first head coaching post.
However, she admitted it was a little bittersweet.
“I built some great relationships with the players and coaches at Baldwin that I will miss,” she said. “However, this is the opportunity I have waited a long time for. I always wanted to be a head coach.
“Ringgold will be a challenge, but they do have the pieces there to be successful. There is potential and I can't wait to get to work.”
She was given a two-year deal with a starting salary of $6,400.
Grimm replaces Nick Mandich, whose job was opened after leading Ringgold to a 10-11 season that included a trip to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Ringgold Athletic Director Ron McMichael said he is ecstatic with the two new hires.
“I feel fantastic with what Phil brings as far as experience and class to the program. He's as good as it gets,” McMichael said. “It means a lot to get two people like Phil and Laura, who both have great backgrounds and are committed to doing things right.
“I think they both will build their programs the right way here.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or email@example.com.
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