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New coach brings experience to Springdale girls basketball

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 10:12 p.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Springdale's Amanda Koprivinikar, runs through drills during practice on Monday at Springdale High School, December 2, 2013
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Springdale's Alex Gradwell (left) gets ready to make a move during practice Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

For veteran coach George Vlassich, his appointment as Springdale girls basketball coach will be the final rodeo.

Vlassich came out of retirement to take the helm of a team that was 6-6 in section play last season, 11-12 overall. He most recently was an assistant boys coach at North Hills, he said.

“We were out in California, and my daughter returned here with her baby,” Vlassich said. “I said I think I'd like to get back into coaching — I missed it. I wanted to get into a smaller environment, just like this. I told them I'm 66, so this is going to be it for me.”

Vlassich is aware of Springdale's recent history, including last season when the Dynamos made the WPIAL Class AA playoffs and were eliminated in the opening round by Riverside.

Springdale has not won a playoff game since defeating Charleroi, 43-27, on Feb. 13, 1998.

Vlassich wants to the team to set higher goals.

“I know we've been around .500, made the playoffs a couple times, had a one-and-out kind of thing,” Vlassich said. “The section's changed. Ciera Gregory's gone from Jeannette. Greensburg Central's up there, but after that, I feel there's a lot of parity. My goal is to challenge for the top two spots.”

The new coach can build around two returning starters. Senior guard Amanda Koprivnikar averaged 10 points per game last season and forward Sarah Udanis will again wear the orange and black.

Returning to the squad after missing last season with an injury is senior Amanda Kuba.

“I really feel we have some people to build around, at least at the senior level,” Vlassich said. “In the lower grades, there hasn't been much going on and we want to build a program.”

Soccer is the top girls sport at Springdale, with that program winning at least one WPIAL playoff game each of the last seven seasons. Vlassich is hoping some female athletes who play the sport also take a look at competing in basketball.

“If we can wrestle some of those soccer athletes to come over, there's no question, they're the best athletes in the school,” Vlassich said. “We're trying to recruit some of those girls down in the sixth and seventh grade to come out and get a fever for basketball following soccer (season).”

Springdale will not be able to field a junior varsity basketball team this season due to injuries and a lack of participation, Vlassich said.

Melissa Zalepa, a 2008 Springdale graduate who played at Community College of Allegheny County-Boyce, will serve as Vlassich's assistant coach.

Springdale will open the season at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Apollo-Ridge at the Dynamo Tipoff Tournament.

The Dynamos will start Section 3-AA competition Dec. 16 at home against East Allegheny.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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