Westmoreland County high school notebook: Derry volleyball coach reflects after 200th win

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Saturday, April 9, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Shawn Spencer sees his coaching milestone as one part longevity, two parts personnel.

He doesn’t make it about himself.

The Derry boys volleyball coach recently captured his 200th win leading the Trojans.

Spencer also coached the Elderton boys from 1992-95 and again from 1998-2003, but the milestone only counts his wins at Derry.

“Personally, to me, it means I have been doing this for a long time and I have been fortunate enough to be part of teams that worked their tails off to have success,” Spencer said. “The wins are a nice thing … but the relationships I have forged over the years with the players I have been fortunate enough to coach is what I think about more than wins and losses. I truly have been blessed over the years to work with the kids I have gotten to coach.”

The milestone win occurred Tuesday when the Trojans defeated Deer Lakes, 3-1.

Spencer also gave a nod to the past after he reached No. 200.

“It symbolizes the tradition Derry volleyball has had over the years,” Spencer said. “Mr. (Richard) Schall created a great environment here at Derry for volleyball, and each year the kids have done a great job of trying to carry on that tradition.”

Spencer, who improved to 200-76 in his career, took over the program from Schall in 2005. Schall won three PIAA championships, reached the state finals two other times and coached Derry for 31 years.

“When I took over the program, Mr. Schall gave me some great advice about various things with coaching and I have just tried my best to use that year to year,” Spencer said. “The players over the years have bought into it and done an excellent job of keeping things going.”

Hall call

A former Greensburg Salem star and a former Norwin coach received a call to a wrestling hall of fame.

Donnie Jones, a two-time PIAA champion who went on to compete at West Virginia, and Bill Closson, who guided the Norwin program from 2014-16, recently were inducted into the Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony took place during the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic on March 25 at Peters Township.

Closson was a standout at Plum, where he was a four-year starter and a Mustangs Hall of Famer.

He compiled a record of 117-21, won a WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A title before moving on to wrestle at Lehigh.

While in college, Closson won 105 times and was a two-time All-American.

Closson also made his mark on the freestyle circuit, winning two national titles. In 1996, he was sixth at the Olympic Trials.

He also coached at Miami (Ohio), Kutztown, Richmond-Burton High School (Ill.) and Burlington-Central (Ill.) High School.

Closson works as a teacher of the visually impaired and is a certified orientation and mobility specialist at Norwin.

He coaches the University Hawks youth wrestling club in Morgantown, W.Va.

Jones’ brothers, Greg and Vertus, also are SPW Hall of Fame members.

Suman to Edinboro

Penn-Trafford basketball standout Maura Suman announced she will play Division II basketball at Edinboro of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Suman, who averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 steals this season, finished as the Penn-Trafford girls’ all-time steals leader with 255.

The point guard’s 219 assists are fifth in program history.

She also had attention from Cal (Pa.), Seton Hill, Pitt-Johnstown, Grove City and Penn State Behrend.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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