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36

LYCOMING COLLEGE 2015 SPRING MAGAZINE

T H E CO L L E G E

S

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

playing softball.”

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

about today.

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

playoffs.

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