Kiski Area dedicates track to former coach William Halli

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Tuesday, April 25, 2023 | 9:11 PM


William “Bill” Halli and Richard Dilts are together again.

The former football coaching colleagues at Kiski Area who later served together in athletic administration at the school now have their names forever linked at the football stadium.

On Tuesday, Kiski Area honored Halli with a ceremony renaming the track at the stadium — William G. Halli Memorial Track — while also honoring his nearly four decades of service and dedication to teaching and coaching.

The football field, which opened in the 2018 season, is named in honor of Dilts, who won more than 200 games and 13 conference titles as Cavaliers coach before retiring in 1993.

Friends, family, coaching and teaching colleagues, former athletes, current Cavaliers track and field athletes, school board members and others connected to Kiski Area and Cavaliers athletics were on hand Tuesday under sunny skies and in cool conditions.

A memorial bench along the fencing next to the track was unveiled with a message that reads, “Thank you. Your inspiration and dedication as a coach and teacher will forever be remembered.”

Halli, a member of the Kiski Area Sports Hall of Fame, died Oct. 28, 2017, at age 80.

“Bill was a very special person,” said Tony Nicholas, the chair of the Kiski Area Sports Hall of Fame committee.

“He wasn’t just a teacher or a coach. He was a person who had a great impact on students’ lives and how they led their lives when they left (Kiski Area). He left an indelible mark on Kiski Area, and that’s why we’re here to honor him today.”

Rev. April (Allensworth) Bell, who won WPIAL gold in the 100- and 200-meter dashes before graduating from Kiski Area in 1999, led a prayer in memory of Halli.

Bell still has a fondness for her former coach.

“I came up through in track at Kiski and thought running was just running,” Bell said.

“Coach Halli really put the technique to it and helped me develop into the champion I became. He took me from an average sprinter to winning at WPIALs and to where I received a full college scholarship (Duquesne).

“He wasn’t just a coach to me. He was a mentor to me even beyond high school. He came to my college graduation. He and his wife came to my wedding. He was a friend. He truly cared for his athletes. He wanted us to excel, not just in athletics, but in life, too. I am grateful for that.”

Said Tony Despotakis, a Kiski Area Sports Hall of Fame committee member: “Bill was a close friend of mine and my neighbor for almost 20 years.

“I am so glad my two boys had the opportunity to know him and to be coached by him. He taught my youngest one how to golf, and he still is an avid golfer. He would take him over to the Links (at Spring Church) and Apollo Elks. Bill was just so humble and so kind. He was there to help anyone he could. He never wanted any credit. I said to his wife that if Bill was here, he would give me hell for doing this (ceremony and dedication). He touched so many lives in such a positive way.”

Halli served on Dilts’ football coaching staff from 1962 to 1974 and was part of a surge in success that included a WPIAL Class 3A title in 1971.

Halli started the Kiski Area boys track and field program in 1963, and his 1968 team won the Westmoreland County championship. He compiled a 94-25 dual-meet record with the boys from 1963 to 1977.

He started the girls track program in 1986 and was coach until 1997. In that time, his teams were a cumulative 70-16.

The Lady Cavaliers won eight section titles during his tenure, and his teams went undefeated eight times. They also won three Allegheny Interscholastic Conference titles, two WCCA crowns and the WPIAL Class 3A championship in 1992.

Halli also served under Dilts as the assistant athletic director from 1985 to 1993. He succeeded Dilts as the athletic director in 1994 and held the position until 1997.

“I hadn’t met him, but from the things people said about him and when he would come up in conversation, you could tell he was someone who was so dedicated to his athletes,” said John Peterman, Kiski Area’s athletic director since June 2017.

“He was a great example of what an athletic director should be with helping athletes in all aspects. Being on the hall of fame committee, I hear stories all the time from the older members.”

Dilts, now 92, missed Tuesday’s ceremony because of health issues. Nicholas did relay a message of support and well wishes from Dilts to Halli’s family and all those in attendance.

Halli didn’t leave the sport once his tenure as a coach concluded. He continued as an official at some of the area’s top meets and worked almost all of the Kiski meets.

Tom Berzonsky, the Cavaliers boys and girls track and field coach for the past two decades and an assistant for a few years before that, remembers Halli as a dedicated ambassador to the sport.

“The biggest things with him was that he understood the tradition, and when an individual or a team did well, he was proud of that and being able to see that tradition continue,” Berzonsky said.

“It was important to me as a coach and to all the coaches that we continue what he started. There’s been high levels of expectation. A great example of his dedication was that he had the records for every grade level and every event for the girls from the start of the program. And we’ve kept that going. We can honestly say that when you’re top 10, there is no question or doubt. He was such a meticulous record keeper. Kiski Area track and field is what it is today because of what he started.”

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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