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Haney stepping down as Kiski Area's softball coach after 22 years

| Saturday, July 5, 2014, 11:06 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Recently retired Kiski Area High School girl's softball coach Dianne Haney poses for a portrait at Owens Grove Park in Apollo on Thursday, July 3, 2014.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Recently retired Kiski Area High School girl's softball coach Dianne Haney tosses a softball to swing at Thursday, July 3, 2014, at Owens Grove Park in Apollo.

After 22 seasons as Kiski Area's softball coach, Dianne Haney has hung up her Navy blue and gold attire for a final time.

Haney recently announced she is stepping down from the job where she has compiled a 248-128-1 record that includes 12 section titles, four undefeated regular seasons, 15 seasons with double-digit victories and a WPIAL title game appearance in 1995.

“I've enjoyed it,” Haney said. “I have a lot of good, fond memories. It's been a great experience.”

Before taking over as head coach in 1993, she was an assistant for five seasons and spent two more seasons managing a youth softball team for the former Bell-Avon Little League.

Haney will remain a physical education teacher with the school district and said she hopes to stay active with the Key Club and “support district activities when I can.”

She also is on the school's Sports Hall of Fame Committee.

Haney brought an unbridled passion for the sport that she always tried to convey to her players — perhaps because they were getting an opportunity she never had.

“Title IX came along just a few months after I got of out high school,” Haney said of the 1972 federal mandate. “There were no girls sports like there are today. The only varsity sports girls participated in was rifle. Times have changed.”

Haney's youth athletic career consisted of an unaffiliated rec league with six modified-pitch softball teams in her native Washington Township.

“We had six teams with different colored shirts, and we had a no-slide rule because we wore shorts,” Haney said with a laugh.

Haney credits her passion for coaching and for public service to her parents — Edward and Gerry Schwab — who remain township residents.

“They were involved in wonderful activities, like Scout leaders,” Haney said. “I was brought up to want to do good for your community, and you need to be passionate about it.”

It didn't take long for her players to realize her passion for the game.

“She was very player-oriented,” said Kelsey Knapp, one of the top Cavaliers pitchers during Haney's tenure.

“She took time to listen to what you had to say and allowed input on how you could get better,” Knapp added.

Haney said her biggest coaching thrill was the 1995 WPIAL title game, even though it was a 1-0 loss to Baldwin in 15 innings.

“They beat us, but there was a respect for the game and each other by both teams that was demonstrated,” Haney said.

The 2006 Valley News Dispatch softball Coach of the Year also said she will miss working with the players and other coaches, particular assistant Bob White of Allegheny Township.

“Bob was so supportive of the kids and me,” Haney said. “He's such a good friend and an enormous help.”

What she won't miss is the long days, starting with her arrival in the classroom at about 7:15 a.m., then practice days and returning from away games at sunset.

“She never yelled, but you knew when she was serious,” Knapp said. “She was a good motivator.”

Knapp played at the University of Delaware and coached at Chatham. She now lives in Washington, Pa.

Another accomplishment Haney is proud of was winning a District 26 Little League softball championship with Bell-Avon. That's a feat since the small league had to defeat other leagues from a drawing area five or six times its size.

“Coaching high school and Little League at the same time, I needed help getting the Little League games started until I could get there from the high school,” Haney recalled.

The Kiski Area School District now is doing something it hasn't done for more than two decades — advertising for a new softball coach.

“I hope whoever they choose cares,” Haney said. “It's always about the kids.”

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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