Klimchock energizes Greensburg Salem girls basketball
With his familiar cup of coffee in hand, Rick Klimchock directs his players during a summer basketball workout in a stuffy Greensburg Salem gymnasium.
As if he needed caffeine.
Klimchock preaches defense, then shouts out an offensive play before skittering across the floor to demonstrate. The new coach bounces around like he's drawing a star with his shoes.
Klimchock's nonstop motor has been revved up again by a fresh start with the Golden Lions girls, a new venture that has him feeling years younger and rejuvenated.
“I told the girls I will be enthusiastic every single day,” said Klimchock, 60, who used to be the head coach of the Jeannette boys and Franklin Regional girls teams. “Why is it that the oldest person in the gym has the most energy?”
And this is a guy who lost 30 pounds on a diet light on carbs and sweets.
Klimchock has seen strong participation from his players so far, even during a recent 10-day stretch when the gym was closed.
“We went to Hufftown courts in South Greensburg,” Klimchock said. “We had a bunch of girls there.”
There are some new faces, such as softball player Tiffany Bruzda.
“He has recruited players out of the woodwork here,” junior guard Nikki Mellinger said.
Would-be junior forward Shay Stevens moved to Florida, Klimchock said. But an experienced group, still young overall, is taking to the veteran coach.
“He has really pushed us to be better,” Mellinger said. “He has motivated us. Whether it's a loose ball or out-of-bounds play, we work to get it right.
“He is a Greensburg legend. His kids played here.”
Klimchock lives less than a mile from the Greensburg Salem campus. His son, Chris, and daughter, Laura, were standout players at Greensburg Salem before bright college careers at St. Vincent.
Coach Klimchock wants his team to play fast but only after they gel.
“I want the girls to get along, be happy and have fun,” he said. “It's about skills, conditioning and strength.”
The team noticed a jolt upon Klimchock's arrival.
“Coach Klimchock has brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy to our summer,” said junior guard Megan Kallock, who averaged 19.7 points last season for the playoff-qualifying Lions (10-13). “We have been in the gym a lot; he wants us to run, be in shape and work on the fundamentals. He knows we're going to be small. We are going to try to create havoc by pressing and running. Everyone is looking forward to this season.”
Klimchock was 243-108 at Jeannette with 13 playoff trips in 14 years and six section titles.
At Franklin Regional, he went 63-77 and made two playoff appearances in six seasons. Klimchock credits several coaching mentors for his positivity and passion for the game, and his unconquered need to improve.
Among them: former Greensburg Central Catholic coaches Jim Farrell, Jim Stewart and Greg Bisignani; former Jeannette coaches Joe Mucci and Bob Murphy; former Greensburg Salem coach Steve Snider; St. Vincent coach D.P. Harris. Klimchock coached for a year and later did color-commentary on the radio for St. Vincent.
Stewart also coached at Greensburg Salem.
“I have been truly blessed to be around some great influences,” he said.
Klimchock's coaching staff consists of former St. Vincent player Dan Sinwell, Case Western grad and former Greensburg Central Catholic standout Danielle Domurat, Jerry Cooley and Lisa Mankins, whom Klimchock replaced as head coach after three seasons. Mankins will stay on to coach the eighth-grade team.