‘Sadness’ for athletes, coaches and alumni as Quigley Catholic closes doors

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | 6:10 PM

Where’s the rest of your team?

It’s a lighthearted question that makes Quigley Catholic boys soccer coach Dave Baker laugh years later, thinking back to a time when his players shared the field with powerhouse Sewickley Academy.

“They had two squads of 30,” Baker said. “They have a varsity team that had 30 and a JV team that had 30. I’ll never forget, their coach looked and he saw that I had 14 guys on the field. He says, ‘Dave, where’s the rest of your team? I don’t see another bus pulling in.’

“I said: ‘We’re Spartans. We don’t need any more.’”

A parochial school in Baden, Beaver County, Quigley Catholic’s sports teams had grown to embrace its small-but-steady reputation as graduating classes declined.

However, with a projected enrollment of just 93 students, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Friday that Quigley will close at the end of this school year.

“There’s a lot of sadness,” Quigley athletic director Matt Kuntz said. “The kids, the parents, the teachers, we absolutely loved that place and would do anything for it. It’s just crazy. I don’t think anybody expected that to happen.”

Quigley, opened in 1967, is the second Catholic school in the WPIAL to close this school year. Vincentian Academy announced in February that it would close for similar enrollment and economic reasons.

PIAA numbers rank Quigley with the least amount of girls of any school in the WPIAL and the third-fewest boys.

“Back when I was in school, we had well over 500 students,” said Baker, a 1975 graduate who’s coached at the school for 25 years. “It’s hard to have the same quality of high school experience.”

Quigley’s sports teams found success over the years. Former athletic director Ed Driscoll, who coached football, baseball and wrestling at the school, is a member of the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame. Swimmer Bruce Marchionda and football coach Bob Babish also were inducted.

But winning wasn’t the school’s singular focus, Baker said.

“Our sports teams at Quigley are really geared around faith and values of fairness, while appreciating the competitive nature of sports,” Baker said. “We didn’t win a lot of championships there because our focus was really more about sportsmanship. We geared everything around those values.”

Still, there are trophies in Quigley’s collection.

Among them, the school was a Class A football power in the 1970s under Babish and won WPIAL football titles in 1978 and ’79. The Spartans defeated Western Beaver both times, 14-8 and 26-6, becoming the first Catholic school to win a WPIAL football title. A star lineman on those teams, Steve Peters, also won a WPIAL wrestling title in 1980.

The football program folded before the 1993 season.

The girls basketball team was one of the school’s most successful programs and recently won seven consecutive section titles from 2012-18. Quigley was the WPIAL girls basketball runner-up in 1989.

The girls tennis doubles team of Cara and Katie Bobish won a WPIAL Class AA title and was the PIAA runner-up in 1998.

Just a year ago, the baseball team reached the WPIAL Class A semifinals.

Baker’s boys soccer team recently reached the WPIAL playoffs in 2016 and 2017. A couple of decades earlier, one of his players, Brad Ayer, finished as the WPIAL’s leading scorer in 1998.

The WPIAL this week removed Quigley Catholic from the section alignments for the 2020-21 seasons. None of the sections will be changed, WPIAL associate executive director Amy Scheuneman said, but instead will have one fewer team. Would-be section opponents are free to schedule replacement games.

“We always wanted to go on the field as a team that everybody else would respect,” Baker said, “and leave the field with class and dignity. That’s how we lived.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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