Longtime Leechburg softball coach Oberdorf considers retirement
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Jim Oberdorf hints just about every year that he might retire as softball coach at Leechburg.
The face of the perennially strong Blue Devils has done so again, but a new goal has presented itself that could help to keep the coach around longer.
Why would Oberdorf leave when he has a chance to become the WPIAL's all-time winningest softball coach?
With the recent retirement of Sto-Rox's Bill Palermo, Oberdorf could supplant him as the wins leader — assuming Leechburg does not bolt for District 6.
Oberdorf, a retired State Police officer, has a radar-gun on the record. He needs 55 wins to pass Palermo.
Palermo, 65, left Sto-Rox with 588 wins, which includes 10 WPIAL titles, in 35 seasons. Oberdorf has 534 wins in 31 years, with three WPIAL titles and two PIAA crowns.
Still, Oberdorf, 68, said the possibility to pass Palermo won't fuel his decision to return.
“That's not something that bothers me at all,” Oberdorf said. “I am not worried about that stuff. It's going to depend on how I feel, and do the girls want me to come back.”
That doesn't seem like a problem.
“He's definitely a coach who will not take anybody's crap,” recent graduate and standout pitcher Kenzie Young said. “He's a wise man who knows what he wants and who he wants where.
“He's like an onion; you gotta pull back the layers and he becomes a teddy bear. It's an honor to play for him.”
Oberdorf is the longest-tenured active coach in any varsity sport in the A-K Valley.
“I finally found out I can't do the things at 68 that I did when I was 50,” said Oberdorf, who played competitive softball into his 50s. “My rotator cuff is shot. I can't even lift my arm. I don't move like I used to.”
Leechburg's playoff streak also keeps Oberdorf enthusiastic. The Blue Devils are coming off 27 straight WPIAL playoff appearances.
“This year was one of the best I have had in terms of the parents and kids being fantastic to deal with,” said Oberdorf, who started coaching at Leechburg in 1982.
“We had no problems all year long.”
Although he's heard rumblings that the school board might consider not bringing him back for a 32nd season, Oberdorf said his own decision to return could depend on the status of his assistants.
Matt Barczykowski, who has been Oberdorf's right-hand man since 1994, is considering stepping down for family reasons.
“I don't know what I'd do without him,” Oberdorf said.
Mike Young is another assistant.
“Simply stated, Jim is Leechburg softball,” Barczykowski said. “He has set a standard that will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to duplicate. His absence will be a large loss for the Leechburg school and community. It has been an honor coaching with him all of these years and a lot of fun, too.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- 7 percent in Allegheny County able to carry concealed gun
- Film session: Long shots dotted Steelers’ passing game
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- Eastern Pa. man jailed in Armstrong County
- Steelers notebook: Bryant confident in backup Jones if Big Ben can’t play