Hempfield track coach Ron Colland receives Ferranti Award

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Saturday, May 2, 2020 | 8:27 PM


Ron Colland has been involved in track and field for more than 60 years, the past 38 as a coach at Hempfield.

And while Colland, 72, has retired as a social studies and world cultures teacher and spends time with his family near Phoenix, he returns to Pennsylvania in late February as the coach.

Colland is pondering his future as a coach, but he loves returning home and working with the athletes at the school. He just don’t know how many years he will do it.

But he was home in early March preparing the team for another season when the coronavirus shut down schools and sports across the state.

And from what Colland had seen, he is sure the Hempfield boys and girls would be competing for another WPIAL team title. The Hempfield boys were the 2019 Class AAA champions.

While Colland and Hempfield were denied another possible title because of the pandemic, the coach received an honor himself. He won the 2020 Michael and John Ferranti Memorial Award, given annually to an individual for his or her contributions to promote high school athletics.

“This award is because I’ve coached some great athletes, and I’ve had some great assistants,” Colland said. “Roger (Sullenberger) put together a program of all the athletes I’ve coached, and you look back at some of those names that you forgot were exceptional.”

Hempfield has won 13 team titles — girls have six (1984, 2012-16) and the boys seven (1975, ’83, ‘87-88, ’11-12 and ’19). The girls won state titles in 2013-14.

Colland, who is back in Arizona, said he wouldn’t mind returning to receive the honor at the Judge John J. Driscoll Westmoreland County Scholar/Athlete banquet.

Driscoll said he is hoping to hold a banquet sometime this summer to honor Colland and all the athletes.

Colland was a 1966 graduate of Connellsville and 1970 grad of Clarion.

“It’s an honor to be recognized,” Colland said. “I’m just frustrated and disappointed for the seniors, but it’s best for the circumstances — the Kennedy Assassination, 9/11 and now this.

“I’ve been privileged to coach some great athletes over the seasons.”

Among the girls are NCAA All-Americans Maddie Holmberg and Bridget Guy, while other college standouts included Jasmine Jones, Morgan DeFloria, Rachel Serafin, Lexi Masterson, Gabby Holmberg and Lauren George.

But no one will forget how the 2019 team banded together and pulled out the team title when pole vaulters Rylan Kauffman and Lukas Kissell stepped up big.

Kauffman and Kissell tied for first place, and the Spartans celebrated another boys title, defeating North Allegheny, Seneca Valley and Mt. Lebanon.

Hempfield’s boys have won 40 individual WPIAL titles and 11 PIAA titles. The girls have won 55 WPIAL titles and 15 individual PIAA titles.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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