Hampton selects Long as new baseball coach
Friday, September 28, 2018 | 8:57 AM
After helping North Hills win its first WPIAL title, Steve Long just came off the best season of his high school baseball coaching career.
Now, he will try to bring some of that championship moxie and magic to a Hampton baseball program that has been close in recent years.
Long spent eight years with the Indians as an assistant coach and the past three as an associate head coach under Randy Miller. He was hired as Hampton baseball head coach in September, replacing Gary Wilson, who stepped down after more than 20 years at the helm.
“It was tough to leave North Hills because I teach there still,” said Long, who works as a special education teacher for the district and is an alum.
“And coming off the tremendous season we had last year … I just felt like this was the year I was going to take that step and take over my own program.”
Long is happy to make his new home in Hampton — literally. He, wife, Jenna, and 1-year-old son, Archie, recently purchased a home in Hampton Township. The family has another baby on the way in April.
“I know I’m young,” said Long, 33. “But I feel like being 33 years old, I have enough experience to be a head coach. But I feel like I’m young enough, I can connect with the players and have that energy day-in and day-out you have to bring to the field.”
Long played on the inaugural Seton Hill baseball class from 2004-07 under Marc Marizzaldi. He also served under his former coach as a graduate assistant for two years.
“I really think the person that had the biggest impact on me was Marc Marizzaldi,” he said. “Playing under him for four years and coaching under him really pulled me toward the coaching profession.”
Having seen Marizzaldi lift the Griffins from a starter NAIA program to a Division II Conference Championship in less than 15 years (Seton Hill won a PSAC title in 2017), along with helping his alma mater win its first WPIAL baseball title, Long has first-hand experience in program building.
“When Randy and I took over North Hills I felt like the program got a kick start with the new energy and new faces. I’m kind of taking that philosophy over with me, too.”
Under Wilson, Hampton wasn’t short on success.
The Talbots made playoffs seven of the past nine seasons, reaching the WPIAL semifinals in 2014 and ’16, but couldn’t squeeze into the state playoffs either year, losing the third-place game each time. The team finished as WPIAL runners-up in 2006 and ’10.
Wilson always maintained his desire to stay involved with the program despite relinquishing his duties as coach. Because of this, it was easy to find a fit for him as the Hampton Middle School coach.
“I’ve known him a long time, and he’s been a big part of this transition,” Long said. “It’s a big help having a former varsity head coach at that level, to have his knowledge and experience. He’s still a big part of the program.”
Long’s love for coaching goes beyond baseball and runs in the family. He helps coach the AAU Pittsburgh Spikes team. Additionally, he joined the North Hills basketball staff last year in large part to gain a different perspective, which he says paid dividends.
His uncle, Dave Long, was longtime coach for North Catholic basketball, winning four WPIAL titles.
Long will take on a team looking to contend immediately with an experienced group of seniors, including three Division I commits in catcher Burke Camper (Towson), outfielder/pitcher Casey Marshalwitz (Youngstown State) and middle infielder Tyler Bischke (Kent State).
“We’re relying on that strong senior class,” said Long, who has had a few workouts with the players.
“We’re strong up the middle when you’ve got four of the five seniors in the middle part of your defense. It’s good to have them back.”
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.