McKeesport, Pa. - The Penn State Greater Allegheny Athletic Department has undergone some remodeling to kick-off the 2014-2015 academic year.
Assistant Athletic Director and women's volleyball head coach Tracy Gibbs has moved into the Interim Director of Athletics position, after previous Athletic Director, Jim Chester, went to Lock Haven University to pursue a career as head coach of it's baseball program.
"Things are really exciting around our Athletic Department this year", said Gibbs. "There is so much potential in the air at Greater Allegheny, both contributed from a few great additions in staff, alongside the start of our fall athletic programs. With well over 100 athletes on campus, there is really a buzz about our programs and an aura of excitement around the players and coaches."
Gibbs added, "Both the men's and women's soccer teams are off to a strong start in their second season as a program at the branch campus. Volleyball and cross country are both eager to prove their program's strength and growth from previous seasons."
Alongside the responsibilities of being the Athletic Director for nine intercollegiate athletic sports, Gibbs is the head coach of the volleyball team. "This 2014 volleyball season is ready for big things. With a strong team, the Lady Lions are ready to officially kick-off their season this Friday. We have a great core of returning players and some fierce freshman this year. The ladies are focused and hungry for the opportunity to really reach their potential as a team."
Sports Information Director Amanda Baldinger has stepped in not only to assist Gibbs with the Athletic Department duties, but also took over as the head coach of the women's soccer program. "I am very fortunate to be asked to help out with athletics at Greater Allegheny. With nine sports and a small Athletic Department staff, there is so much going on everyday and every little bit of help counts. I look forward to big things not only for the athletic department, but also for the women's soccer program."
"There are big things brewing here at Greater Allegheny and I am very excited to be apart of the process," said coach Baldinger.
With Baldinger comes Missy Baldwin, a fellow Bethany alumni eager to assist and educate the young ladies about the sport. "Having the opportunity to contribute to the foundation of an up-and-coming program is something to be desired," said Baldwin. "The area of opportunity for this program is very exciting. The attitude of our student-athletes is contagious, making this road to being a technically sound team that much more fulfilling."
Tyler Care comes to the GA Athletic Department as the head coach of the men's basketball program. Care said, "New to Greater Allegheny, everyone has been very supportive making it an easier transition from California University of Pennsylvania. I am very excited for the year ahead as it should be a good one. I have big expectations from the group of men, as the team returns a solid core to the hardwood."
Assistant coach Eric Kuczma steps in as interim head coach of the men's baseball team. "I’m very excited for the opportunity", said Kuczma. "I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the program’s success for the past two seasons alongside a great staff."
Kuczma completes, "Following Coach Chester leaves me with big shoes to fill, but I’ll do my best to keep the program moving in the same direction. We have a strong core of returning players and a good freshman class, and I know the guys are looking to get the fall workouts started and getting their work in."
Lastly, head coach Jen Smith will be taking over the women's softball program solely this year. She shared the title last season with Amanda Maksin, who was with the program for five seasons.
Smith has been apart of the program since Maksin has and states, "It will definitely be a different experience without Amanda. We worked well together and so the dynamic will change a bit."
"I am very eager to continue on with the development of skills with the girls who come out to the Greater Allegheny softball team. I enjoy being able to coach and teach the girls new skills because we are all improving together. The returning players are already recruiting on campus and new girls are already showing interest in coming out for the team. Big things are going to continue for the GA softball team in the 2014-15 season," said Smith.
The Penn State Greater Allegheny Athletic Department sees their first competition this upcoming Friday, as the women's volleyball team travels to Penn State Beaver to hold a USCAA Tournament. Thier first match is against PSU Beaver at 4 p.m. followed by a match against Rochester University at 6 p.m.