Kiski Area AD Peterman retiring after long career in athletic administration

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | 8:35 PM


Kiski Area senior Eliza Miller will run the 1,600 meters Friday morning and the 800 meters Saturday afternoon at the PIAA Class 3A track and field championships at Shippensburg.

John Peterman will be there to watch her compete in her final high school event before heading off to Duquesne.

For Peterman, Kiski Area’s athletic director for the past seven years, it, too, will be a closing chapter in a career in athletic administration that spanned several decades from its roots at Penn Hills, his alma mater, to the district that contains the home he has shared with his wife, Gloria, for many years.

“I want to be there to honor Eliza for her career,” Peterman said. “There have been so many fantastic student-athletes come through Kiski Area. I’ve been in athletics for 50 years, and Eliza is probably one of the best all-around female athletes I’ve been around. She’s qualified for states in the fall, winter and spring for three years. She’s won 16 WPIAL medals and 11 state medals going into this week.

“Her name will be on nine of the 11 events on the swim record board. She holds several cross country invitational records and also holds a couple of track (event records). It is incredible. Watching her and other athletes and teams perform over the years makes it special to be able to do what I’ve done.”

Peterman decided to accept the school district’s offer of an early retirement package.

“With my wife retiring last June from Penn Hills, it felt like it was the right time to be able to do some things together,” he said. “We’ve been married for 36 years, and she’s been following me to a lot of the games when I was a coach and continued to do it when I became an athletic director.

“If anybody saw me at Penn Hills or Kiski, she would be right there helping work the games. She’s been so supportive of me. Now, we’re looking forward to doing some things she likes to do.”

Peterman wants to do as much as he can before June 30, his last official day on the job.

When he wakes up July 1, outside tasks most likely will be on the docket.

“I will probably mow my field,” he said. “We have 30 acres. We want to work to make that property look like a park.”

When Peterman, 56, came to Kiski Area from Penn Hills, he not only switched school colors but he finished up as head football coach of the Indians.

He and current Cavaliers football coach Sam Albert were hired at the same board meeting in March 2017.

A couple of months before his arrival, Kiski Area wrestling won the WPIAL Class 3A team title. A couple of weeks before, both track teams won section titles, and the softball team qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.

He came to the home of the Cavaliers with energy and ideas to improve Kiski Area athletics, and, he said, he is proud of what has been accomplished with the help of the school district administration, coaches, boosters, students, athletes and community members.

The search for the next athletic director at Kiski Area continues. The school board on Monday tabled a motion to hire an AD. It now moves to a possible conclusion next month.

Over the past few weeks, as the spring sports seasons started to wind down and the final days of the school year ticked off the calendar, Peterman said he has caught himself waxing nostalgic with some of the memorable moments he witnessed at Kiski Area.

He recalled wrestling individual and team championships, playoff appearances in all seasons, a WPIAL championship in consecutive years for the boys and girls swim teams, the start of a girls wrestling program and facility upgrades, including the stadium that now bears the name of legendary coach Richard J. Dilts.

Peterman was starting his second school year at Kiski when the Cavaliers football team christened the new on-campus stadium Aug. 24, 2018, with a 24-9 victory over defending City League champion Allderdice.

“I’ve seen the upgrades made at Penn Hills and Kiski Area. It’s not without the help of many people in administration and on the school boards who have the best interest of the athletes,” said Peterman, a member of the Penn Hills Sports Hall of Fame. “My theory and mission was to always give (the athletes) a first-class facility in which to practice and put their talents on display.”

Peterman also recalls the trials Kiski Area and many other school districts went through during the cancellation of the spring 2020 seasons and the subsequent seasons with change after change in the 2020-21 school year.

“It was a trying time for schools because rules were changing every other week, and we had to be able to communicate those changes effectively,” he said. “It was a difficult time adjusting to processes that were new, including who could come to games and how many and coaches administering temperature checks. Schedules were changing so much. I give the coaches so much credit for what they did to help the kids do as much as possible.”

Peterman isn’t the only one retiring from Kiski Area athletics as Jennie Bowman, a Kiski Area grad, will retire from her job as administrative assistant. Her final day is Aug. 30.

“She is tremendous,” Peterman said. “She puts a lot of stuff on her plate. She is a big part of this athletic department.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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