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Bartha becomes Apollo-Ridge AD

| Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Apollo-Ridge's Ray Bartha been known as coach, teacher, borough councilman and, more recently, hall of famer.

Bartha recently took on another role, as he was selected as the school district's athletics director, effective July 1. He replaced Larry Lizik, who announced his resignation to the school board several months ago.

"I've always had interest in the job, and I wanted to be around the school's sports system," Bartha said. "It became available, and there were not a lot of people interested in it."

Bartha, 61, retired as a special education and social studies teacher in 2004. He has been able to remain head girls basketball coach and now become athletics director under a 2002 state law that permits educators to serve as coaches and administrators without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

Bartha knows most Alle-Kiski Valley athletics directors on a first-name basis, after being involved in coaching for 33 seasons and the annual Top Gun Summer Camp.

His first order of business will be making sure the fall sports season is ready to go. The Vikings will return to the Class AA Allegheny Football Conference under new head coach John Simon.

"Larry and I will spend some time together to make sure everything for the fall sports season has been ordered," Bartha said. "All the past ADs have done a great job here."

Bartha indicated the boys/girls Apollo Trust Christmas Tournament is largely organized by the basketball boosters club and will remain intact.

His immediate goals include making sure buses have been ordered for games, officials have been hired and athletes remain academically eligible. Bartha has been warned by other athletic directors that spring sports can be a nightmare, with all the weather-related postponements.

He also plans to work with the community group formed to upgrade Owens Field for future football games.

High gasoline prices have cast a pall on many high school athletic departments, as schools have to transport athletes to contests, while fans pay dearly to follow teams on their own. To that end, Bartha and boys basketball coach Greg Fox are hoping to have at least one boys/girls varsity doubleheader with a nonsection school, meaning fans would have to travel once to see each team. Bartha is hoping for an eventual home-and-home series with the opposing school.

After reaching the immediate goals, Bartha hopes to formulate a new set of goals next year at this time.

Late this fall, he will begin his 34th season as girls basketball coach with 501 victories and 21 trips to the WPIAL playoffs. Bartha is a member of both the A-K Valley and Armstrong County sports halls of fame.

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