Ashley DeVito built program, relationships during 7 seasons with Penn Hills girls soccer

Sunday, June 12, 2022 | 9:01 AM

Dayvona Hogan enjoyed being able to keep her eyes on the varsity girls soccer team’s practice while she played for the Linton Middle School team. Hogan would wait until practice ended and eagerly wander over to talk to varsity coach Ashley DeVito.

There was a natural curiosity for Hogan, who didn’t come up through the club soccer ranks, about how to become a varsity player. Hogan got into the sport spontaneously. She decided to start playing in seventh grade because her friends did.

In fact, Hogan had never played an organized sport at any level.

“I was always excited to talked to Ashley after practice,” said Hogan, who graduated in 2020 and now attends Slippery Rock. “She would always tell me to not worry about people having more experience than you. There are a lot of girls who didn’t have any experience that turned out just as good.”

Cultivating players such as Hogan became a hallmark of DeVito’s tenure. DeVito, who announced she is stepping down from the program after seven seasons in charge, was always trying to create an atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable.

That environment helped Penn Hills find consistent success. During DeVito’s tenure, the Indians made the playoffs and had winning records during her last two seasons. Penn Hills went 9-8-1 last season before losing to Mars in the first round of the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs. The Indians went 6-5-1 in section play, which was the first time DeVito had a winning section record.

The Indians compiled a 44-76-3 record during DeVito’s tenure, including four trips to the district playoffs. DeVito took the job right after graduating from Edinboro.

In addition to the on-the-field accomplishments, she is proud of how the program did fundraising to have the field at Linton Middle School named after Nate Ferraco. Ferraco was a Penn Hills graduate and student at Geneva College when he died in a 2016 car accident.

“It’s been incredible,” said DeVito, who is also a Penn Hills graduate. “It was tough being a young female coach. I faced some hardships with referees, opposing coaches and the parents of players. But it was nice being younger. I knew the girls’ limits. I pushed hard to get the best out of everyone. I had high expectations and knew we were capable of winning.”

DeVito said she volunteered to help search for the next coach for the program. She is stepping down to focus on her career.

DeVito is an assistant principal at Propel Braddock Hills High School and also pursuing her doctorate at Point Park.

“I got my first job as an assistant principal right before the soccer season last year,” DeVito said. “I wanted to see if I could manage both. It was a lot of hours, and I sacrificed a lot of hours from myself and my career.”

When DeVito took over the program at Penn Hills, she was 22. Brittney Anglin wasn’t sure what to think when she first saw her new coach. DeVito was Anglin’s sister’s age, and she didn’t listen to her sister.

“I thought it was funny because she was my older sister’s age,” Anglin said. “At first I thought, ‘Wow, she’s not that old.’ … But she made things like a family. I still talk to her, and her treating us like a family was one of the most impactful things for me.”

Alyssa Lucas, who recently graduated from Kent State, appreciated DeVito’s coaching methods. When it came to playing time, her expectations were clear. Players needed to attend practice and bring the effort required to get on the field.

“Right from the beginning, I knew she meant business,” Lucas said. “If you put in the time, you would be rewarded with playing time. From the beginning, we grew as a team. From the beginning, you could always tell DeVito put 110% effort in.”

After going 5-13 in DeVito’s first season, Penn Hills responded with trips to the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs in 2016 and 2017.

DeVito’s strategy of setting honest, ambitious goals resonated with the program.

Lucas, who is pursuing a career in nursing, believes some of DeVito’s messages will persist as she enters the workforce.

“I think being fair, up front and saying exactly what you are looking for is the best quality someone can have,” Lucas said. “Not even just in sports. If you work 110% and your boss and coach isn’t satisfied, it could be because you don’t know what you are looking for to get where you want to be. It motivated me to do this and come to practice, be a leader, and that’s what she was looking for — 110%.”

Life came full circle for Hogan during the Indians’ 6-1 loss to the Warriors on Oct. 23, 2017. Hogan, who wasn’t sure if she would ever play varsity soccer, scored 90 seconds in the second half for Penn Hills’ lone goal of the match.

“It was nicer having Ashley as a younger coach and someone who was closer to our age,” Hogan said. “I got to see my team all the time, hang out, and all the other stresses in the world would go away. Being 20 years old now, if I need to call Ashley, she’s still going to answer for us.”

Building up

The Penn Hills girls soccer team had a winning record in each of the last two seasons of coach Ashley DeVito’s seven-year tenure.

2021: 9-8-1*

2020: 9-8-0*

2019: 5-11-2

2018: 3-14-0

2017: 6-12-0*

2016: 7-10-0*

2015: 5-13-0

Total: 44-76-3

*Made playoffs


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