LYCOMING COLLEGE 2015 SPRING MAGAZINE
T H E CO L L E G E
tat sheets don’t tell the entire story
of head women’s basketball coach Chris
Ditzler’s career at Lycoming College.
Take the fact that every Senior Day-
in a true display of sportsmanship-
Ditzler makes it a point to recognize
the visiting team’s seniors, before
introducing the Lycoming players
appearing in their final home game.
And each year the Warriors host
the Hoops for Hounds Classic, which has raised thousands
of dollars during its nine-year run for the Lycoming County
SPCA, an organization close to her heart.
Most importantly is the amount of respect and care she
shows all her student-athletes.
“Obviously, we all want to win,” Ditzler said, “but sometimes
those things don’t happen. I have been fortunate to coach some
great student-athletes, be it basketball, softball or volleyball,
which has made it enjoyable, whether we win or lose. We have
grown every year.”
Ditzler began her Lycoming career in 1992 as an assistant
basketball coach to Jim Orr and head softball coach, just two
years removed from her days as a guard with Franklin &
Marshall College, where she also played one year of softball.
Within months of signing on, Orr announced his retirement,
and Director of Athletics Frank Girardi promoted Ditzler to
head women’s basketball coach.
“My interview consisted of talking with Frank in his office,”
Ditzler said. “He called me and offered me the job. I never saw
the campus when I got here. I didn’t even know where we were
Even while jumping into both jobs on the fly, success came
quickly for Ditzler, as she led the women’s basketball team to
postseason appearances in six of her first seven seasons
and an NCAA Division III Tournament bid in 1997.
She also coached two All-Americans, Annette
(Weller) Kinney ’96 and Erica Weaver ’98, during that period,
and went on to coach the program’s all-time leading scorer
Lyndy LeVan ’03 in the early 2000s.
“I had never coached softball, so I went to clinics and read
everything I could,” Ditzler said. “I remember practicing signals
in front of a mirror because I had never done anything like
that. I did know if I went and got a good pitcher, I would win 85
percent of the games.”
She did indeed find a series of great pitchers, including
Lycoming College Athletics Hall of Famers Mary Beth
(Schwindenhammer) McNicholas ’97 and Morgan Mantle
’07. The pair were a part of some of the best teams in program
history, as the softball team won the 1997 Middle Atlantic
Conference title and reached the conference playoffs 11 times in
Ditzler’s 16 years as coach from 1993-2008.
In 2014, Ditzler’s career ledger began to demand some notice.
The women’s basketball team stormed out to a 4-1 record and
a 72-59 win over Susquehanna on November 30 helped Ditzler
became just the fifth coach in the athletic department’s history
to reach 250 wins in a single sport.
As if that weren’t enough, three games later Ditzler became
the only coach in the athletic department’s history to win 500
games in a 67-42 win over Hood, combining 252 basketball
wins with 235 as softball coach and 13 from one year as an
interim volleyball coach in 2000-a story that Ditzler laughs
Sonny (Kirkpatrick ’91) left just one day before preseason
started, to coach at a Division II university. ” Ditzler recalls, “I
didn’t know anything about volleyball. I learned a lot that year,
though. I still don’t know much, but I learned it wasn’t the gym
class volleyball I remembered from high school.”
Ditzler credits her assistant coach Wendy Warfield, who
was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time, as integral
to saving the season. Add in a few great raw athletes, like Hall
of Famer Layne Haverstock ’04, and the team finished with
a winning record and made it to the Freedom Conference
Ditzler acknowledges just about everyone other than herself
when it comes to the milestones, including two of her assistant
coaches in particular-Joe Moore, who helped coached the
softball team from 1997-2013, and George Henry, who joined
the women’s basketball staff in 2004.
“Their commitment to me, the program and the players is
just extraordinary,” she said. “I have been quite fortunate to
have people in my life that I could count on–from recruiting
to game knowledge and everything else. They are just good
mentors. I probably have to give most of the wins to those two.”
Of her time in Williamsport, Ditzler said a lot has changed.
The school has seen administration changes, the athletic
depament has grown and added sports, while the school
has grown into a national liberal arts institution. She has
adjusted her coaching style along the way for a new generation
of athletes, but one thing hasn’t changed-her love for
coaching and coaching at Lycoming College.
A milestone year
By Joe Guistina
WA R R I O R N EWS