McKeesport, PA. – Throughout his life, Penn State Greater Allegheny Men’s Basketball Alumnus Nick Dizon has always prided himself on being the hardest working person whether it be on the court or in the classroom. It is his hard work that has led him to his current position as head women’s basketball coach at Kiski Area High School. However, it would be his unlikely journey to PSUGA that opened Dizon’s eyes to the success he could achieve.
Dizon graduated from Woodland Hills in 2011 and signed to play basketball at La Roche college for his freshman season. However, tragedy struck and it would change Dizon’s career path and life forever.
“I had left La Roche College in January 2011 after La Roche Head Coach Scott Lang died suddenly at practice,” said Dizon. “That was a really tough time for me. After a few months, I realized I wanted to play again and PSUGA’s head coach at the time, Clyde Manns, gave me a second opportunity I am forever grateful for.”
Dizon arrived on campus in the Fall of 2012 and immediately felt right at home. Being able to play the sport he loved close to home gave him a sense of pride as he not only got to represent a world class institution in Penn State Greater Allegheny, but got to do it in front of friends and family who were only a short drive away.
“PSUGA felt like a home as soon as I arrived,” said Dizon. “The guys on the team accepted me right from the start and that was an immediate indication on how the campus was as a whole. It meant a lot to me especially because the campus is only 15 minutes from where I grew up.”
Dizon bursted onto the scene in January of 2012 scoring a double-double in his first game with the team on January 11th against Westmoreland County CC scoring 10 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. That was just the beginning of the success for Dizon, who would finish his sophomore year averaging 10.5 PPG while pulling down 47 rebounds.
He would go on to play two more seasons with PSUGA helping to lay the ground work for the successful program that PSUGA has today. It was in Dizon’s senior season that PSUGA found the motivation they needed to turn things around. PSUGA sat at 3-15 entering the game and no one outside of the program thought a win was possible.
“We upset Beaver [the top team in the conference at that time] and started to lay a foundation of a winning culture and we finished that season on a strong note,” said Dizon. “Nobody on the outside thought we could win that game, but everyone in our locker room did.”
PSUGA would finish that season winning five of their last seven games finishing with a record of 9-17. Dizon finished his PSUGA career averaging 12.7 ppg over 2.5 seasons and holds the PSUGA Men’s Basketball career FG% record shooting 48.4% (306-632) over his 2.5 seasons in a Lions uniform.
“I consider it a great honor to hold [the FG%] record here at PSUGA,” said Dizon. “As a player, I would pride myself on being efficient. My belief was that if I could score at an effective rate, it would give our team ta better chance to win.”
Dizon graduated from PSUGA in 2015 with a degree in business and was able to find a job right out of college working as a Project Manager. However, he found that he wasn’t happy at his job and wanted to do something more with his life. He new it was time for a career change and it was a return to the sport he loved that gave Dizon the fulfillment he was looking for.
“I worked as a project manager out of college, but I wasn’t happy doing that,” said Dizon. “As I began my coaching career, I realized that making a difference in somebody’s life is one of the most powerful things you can do. The great professors and coaches I had made a difference in my life, and that has inspired me to do the same. I am truly privileged to not just do this on the basketball court but in the classroom as well.”
It was the Kiski Area School District that gave Dizon the chance to make an impact on young athletes lives when they hired him as their head women’s basketball coach in June of 2018. As he enters his first varsity season as a head coach, Dizon is bringing many of the things he learned during his time at PSUGA to the court.
“The biggest thing that I have taken away from my time at PSUGA is that a basketball coach does more than just coach basketball,” said Dizon. “I want my players to know that I have their back on and off the court and am there no matter what. When your players know that you care about them as people, not just players, I believe that you can maximize the impact you can have on their lives.”
Dizon could not have the success he has had without the help of many of his coaches and professors at PSUGA. It is because of these people in his lives that Dizon is able to pass the lessons he has learned onto his current student students at Kiski Area High School.
“Coach Manns did a lot for me and I am truly grateful for that,” said Dizon. “I use a lot of things I learned from him with my current team. Professor Bernie Ceresaro was also a huge influence as she helped prepare me for the real world. Another great professor I had was Anthony Mitchell. He had a way of teaching and relating to students that I try to apply in my life to my players and students.”
For someone who maybe looking into a career at PSUGA, Dizon encourages them to go for it. He says that the academics and athletic program offer students a chance to succeed both in their sport and in the classroom.
“PSUGA has a lot to offer academically,” said Dizon. “I can speak from experience that the business program at PSUGA is directly responsible for many of the successful moments of my life. Athletically, the experience at PSUGA is one that I wouldn’t trade. Since PSUGA is a smaller school, so many people are invested in the athletic programs as fans and as a result will provide a very memorable playing experience!”
As Dizon continues his coaching journey with the Cavaliers, he will always come back to his time at PSUGA as the motivating factor to his success. With the opportunities provided by PSUGA and Dizon’s willingness to work, he is able to lead the next generation of student athletes through their journey in basketball and in life.