Norwin baseball job lures Craig Spisak away from Yough

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Monday, August 15, 2022 | 5:45 PM


Craig Spisak is a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.

He will be patrolling a new dugout next baseball season.

Spisak is leaving Yough after six seasons as the head baseball coach to take the same position at Norwin.

He was approved at Monday night’s Norwin School Board meeting.

The upper-class lure was too compelling for Spisak, who threw his name into the ring after longtime Knights coach Mike Liebdzinski resigned after last season.

Spisak met with his Yough players Monday afternoon to tell them he likely was leaving.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I didn’t really want to leave Yough. I thought I’d be there forever. I have been very blessed to work with so many good people here. But with Norwin, it was just an opening I couldn’t pass up.”

It’s not a far move from Hunker to North Huntingdon, but Spisak is taking a longer trek in the coaching ranks, venturing into Class 6A for the first time.

“I have always been curious about (6A) baseball,” he said. “Norwin is one of the premier programs in the WPIAL. It’s what other programs aspire to. I know I have some big shoes to fill, but I’m excited.”

Yough most recently competed in 3A.

Liebdzinski went 233-114 in 19 seasons with eight section titles and a WPIAL championship in 2016.

Not exactly a curator of his accomplishments, the humble Spisak couldn’t give you his win total, but he promises his best effort.

“I don’t even know what the Norwin job pays, to be honest,” he said. “I don’t know who else applied, who else was in the running, none of that. I am happy I got the job.”

Spisak had guided Yough since 2015. He finished with a mark of 56-48 with four WPIAL playoff trips.

He was part of six section-winning teams, three as head coach and three as an assistant.

“I told the (Yough) kids, they have a lot to look forward to next year,” Spisak said. “They are going to be pretty good. Whoever comes in to coach is going to inherit some talent.”

His best season came in 2018 when the Cougars, led by star pitcher Jarret Bach, went 14-7 and reached the WPIAL 4A semifinals.

Norwin made the playoffs 17 times under Liebdzinski and also had two WPIAL runner-up finishes.

“It’s like recruiting and what we tell the kids,” Spisak said. “You want to improve yourself. You want to get to the highest level you can. Norwin is one of the most respected programs around. It’s a machine.”

Spisak, 53, was an assistant under Terry Odelli for 13 years at Yough, served brief stints on staffs at Belle Vernon and Mt. Pleasant and also was a football coach at Yough for four years under Jim Wehner and was part of three conference-winning teams.

He also has been a PIAA basketball referee since 1997, around the time he started as a state trooper.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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