Sally Ackerman returns to St. Joseph, this time in a new role

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Monday, June 13, 2022 | 11:41 AM


Sally Ackerman coached the girls basketball team at St. Joseph for five years from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

The Spartans advanced to the WPIAL postseason four times, the PIAA playoffs once and compiled a 71-48 record during that span.

Ackerman, also the girls JV coach at St. Joseph from 2010-13, has returned “home.”

She was hired as the school’s athletic director with a start date of May 23, stepping in for Brad Bestic, who served as interim A.D. for seven-plus months and also was the Spartans’ first-year baseball coach this spring.

Ackerman is the sixth athletic director at St. Joseph since 2017.

“I have always wanted to come back to work at St. Joseph, having both coached and taught there,” she said. “I also taught a college-level course called intro to Java programming at St. Joseph. The timing was right for me to come back, and this position just happened to open up.

“Ever since my first day coaching, I felt really comfortable there because of the sense of community that St. Joseph has. It reminded me of my high school years as it is a school where the students have the opportunity to engage in a lot of different activities, and the faculty and staff are always willing to help out. I made some lifelong friendships there, and it will always have a place in my heart. I am beyond happy to be back.”

Ackerman was an assistant A.D. for her husband, Tim, who served as St. Joseph’s athletic director from 2016-18.

“So I have some personal experience in understanding what the job entails,” Ackerman said. “I will be responsible for scheduling, managing the coaching staff, WPIAL/PIAA regulations and eligibility, being onsite for any home events, etc.

“The first order of business is to supervise the boys basketball summer league. The biggest challenge that awaits is looking into the possibility of having a track team next year.”

Ackerman has a bit of an “old school” athletic background, having competed in basketball and softball and running track at Swissvale High School, which merged in 1987 with Braddock, Braddock Hills, Churchill, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, North Braddock Scott, Rankin and Turtle Creek to become Woodland Hills.

Ackerman earned varsity letters in all three sports and played all four years of her high school career.

“My best sport was basketball,” she said, “and the one I am most passionate about. Swissvale was a smaller school, I think we were double-A, so every athlete played more than one sport. When there was nowhere else to play, I started coaching. I have been coaching basketball on and off since my college days.”

“My family has always been involved in coaching sports. My husband, my father, my mother and my brother all coached various sports. Coaching, mentoring and teaching are all passions of mine, so I am excited for this new opportunity.”

Ackerman earned a bachelor of science degree in management information systems from IUP, graduating in 1990. She also has a teaching certificate obtained while studying for her masters degree in elementary education at the University of Phoenix. She graduated in 2010.

“I did my student teaching at Kerr Elementary in the Fox Chapel School District,” she said.

As athletic director at St. Joseph, a small Catholic school located in Natrona Heights that educates 160 students from two dioceses, 33 parishes, four counties and 20 school districts, Ackerman’s job description includes overseeing eight varsity sports during the school year.

St. Joseph offers baseball, boys basketball, girls basketball, co-ed bowling, cheerleading, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, softball, co-ed tennis and girls volleyball. There’s also an Ultimate Frisbee Club at the high school.

Ackerman is employed at UPMC as a senior systems engineer and will continue her technology career while tending to her administrative duties at St. Joseph.

“I would like to thank my husband for always being supportive and encouraging me to chase my dreams,” Ackerman said. “I would also like to thank my supervisor at UPMC for being flexible with me and allowing me to pursue this opportunity.

“Lastly, thank you to the St. Joseph administration; it is an honor to be back working with you.”

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