Passion for WPIAL basketball leads North Allegheny grad Hailey Zeise to Pine-Richland job

Sunday, June 16, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Hailey Zeise spent the last year coaching in college at George Washington, but in her heart, she knew high school basketball was where she wanted to be.

Seven years ago, Zeise helped lead North Allegheny to a WPIAL title and now she hopes to do the same as a coach at Pine-Richland.

Zeise was officially hired June 11 to take over the Rams girls basketball program at the Pine-Richland school board meeting.

“It’s a great program,” Zeise said. “Not just the basketball programs, but all the programs. They do things at a high level, and being as competitive as I am, it really appealed to me. Speaking with the AD (Joe Gironda) and everyone through the interview process, it was clear they were looking for someone with that competitive spirit and someone who was the right fit. I was looking for the right fit too, and for what I was looking for and what I want to do with a program, I think Pine-Richland is the best place to do that.”

Zeise takes over for Gabby Baldasare, who resigned after two seasons.

Baldasare led the Rams to consecutive playoff appearances.

Zeise comes from a coaching family, including her father Paul, a longtime AAU coach, but she initially did not see herself going into the profession.

After a successful high school career at North Allegheny, she went on to play at Stony Brook and after graduation started to coach at the AAU level as well as working skill camps. That led to an opportunity to be an assistant at Oakland Catholic in 2022.

“I got approached by Eddie Benton when he got the job at Oakland Catholic about coaching with him, and I was working at Pitt at the time, so it was right down the street,” Zeise said. “Maybe it was my inability to say no, but I think subconsciously I always knew I wanted to coach even if outwardly I was convinced I was going to hang it up after playing. Basketball is such a big part of who I am. It’s in my DNA and I really got invested in coaching.”

Zeise spent last year at George Washington, which she called a “truly amazing experience,” but she realized in that time that her passion is at the high school level.

“I was talking to a friend from (Washington) D.C. and trying to explain to her what the WPIAL is like,” Zeise said. “Here in Pittsburgh, the schools are really close together, whereas some other places you may have 20 miles to the closest school you play. We don’t have that here. It’s hyper-competitive and I’m just excited to jump in and to see it all.”

Zeise is looking forward to getting to know the girls. They have a youth camp scheduled in a couple weeks. She is familiar with a few of them through AAU.

“One of the things I want to focus on is being the coach for them that I needed when I was their age,” Zeise said. “There’s something to be said about learning from women that have done it. That’s something I’m passionate about is empowering them as women. I want them to be the best young women they can be, and it’s special for me to see them become the people they’re going to be. We’re going to compete, win basketball games and improve on the court, but it’s also about them building their confidence and finding their voice.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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