Riverview basketball coaches Paul Sapotichne, Keith Stitt retire

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 | 6:13 PM


It will be a different look on the sidelines for Riverview basketball next season.

Boys coach Paul Sapotichne and girls coach Keith Stitt recently retired from their posts.

Sapotichne guided the Raiders the past six seasons as part of a 41-year coaching stint. Stitt handled the girls program for the last 12 seasons.

Both coaches thought it was time to hang up their whistles.

“I felt I had put in my time,” Sapotichne said. “Riverview was very nice to me. This past year was difficult with the covid problems, injuries and everything that could go wrong went wrong. I’ve loved coaching for 41 years, but I thought this was the right time.”

Said Stitt: “For the last several years, I took time to re-evaluate where I was. I retired from my regular job (asphalt company) last August, and I never had aspirations of coaching into my later years.”

Sapotichne has been replaced by Phil McGivney, who coached Keystone Oaks last season, and Stitt’s assistant, Jill Catanzaro, has been elevated to head coach.

“I’m glad Jill got the job. It’s her time. There will certainly be the continuity in the program,”’ said Stitt, a 1976 Penn Hills graduate.

Sapotichne, a 1971 Springdale graduate, coached Greensburg Salem for 29 seasons and won 399 games. He led the Golden Lions to the PIAA Class AAA finals in 2009 and was that classification’s coach of the year.

After stepping down from Greensburg Salem in 2012, he got back into coaching three years later when the Riverview job opened up, just as he was moving his real estate appraisal business to Oakmont.

“We had about 7,000 fans there at Penn State’s Jordan Center,” Sapotichne recalled. “Brad Cashman, who was in charge of the PIAA at the time, said that was one of the largest crowds he ever saw from one school.”

Sapotichne and Stitt have also became close friends over the past several years, and both have said they want to spend more time with their families, particularly their grandchildren.

Both also cited the considerable time necessary these days where coaching has become a 12-month endeavor with all the spring and summer leagues, along with fall open gyms.

“We drove to New Orleans recently to see my daughter, and I have a son in Michigan,” Sapotichne said. “My son has taken over the appraisal business, which is doing well, and my wife and I have taken seven vacations since I retired.”

Sapotichne feels the program is in good shape with the development of talent in the lower grades, though four-year guard Gideon Deasy needs to be replaced.

Stitt previously coached the Riverview junior high team for six seasons and was a referee for eight seasons before that. Although his Raiders teams made the playoffs 11 of the 12 seasons, he is most proud of the closeness developed with his players.

“I still get texts and phone calls from former players,” Stitt said. “I enjoy seeing how successful they have become in their professional lives, and some have their own kids now. We had some great wins and tough losses. I am glad I’m able to walk away on my own accord.”

Sapotichne was the 1971 player of the year for the former WKPA Radio and Westmoreland Cable TV-3 of New Kensington.

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