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New coaches approved to lead Danville Area athletics

Mar. 8—DANVILLE — The hiring of several new coaches was approved by the Danville Area School Board Wednesday night. The return of some fall coaches were also approved.

John Vella, who already coaches the district's boys' track and field team as well as both middle school track and field and cross country, was hired as high school cross country coach for the 2024-2025 fall season with a stipend of $7,436. Vella will take over for former longtime cross country coach Jeff Brandt.

Two Danville parents made public comments in support of Vella.

Troy Klinger explained both his son and daughter ran for Vella as middle-schoolers and his son continued to be mentored by Vella during high school track. Both still compete at the college level, Klinger said.

Klinger admitted the district had two qualified candidates in both Vella and Tina Bartholomew, the current high school girls' track and field coach, but he spoke largely in favor of Vella.

"This past fall, my son had been struggling mentally during the cross country season and admitted that he had started to lose his passion for the sport. After several weeks pondering the struggle, he came to the realization that his college team didn't have the culture of balancing fun and enjoyment of a physically and mentally tough sport," Klinger said. "His words were to the likes of, 'it's just not the same atmosphere that Coach Vella had. He let us have fun and truly enjoy the sport.'"

Eight board members voted in favor of Vella's hire. School Director Richard Vognetz was the only board member to vote "no."

The board also approved the hire of Ken Kremser as varsity girls soccer coach for the 2024-2025 fall season with a stipend of $3,000. He will replace Angela Sivillo, who stepped down.

School Directors Wayne Brookhart, Samuel Faulkner, Kerry Hoffman, Derl Reichard Jr., Robert Umbriac and Sandy Green voted in favor of Kremser's hire. Directors Tyler Garman, Derl Reichard and Vognetz voted against it.

The board went into an executive session to discuss personnel matters prior to approving a list of returning high school head coaches for the fall 2024 season.

The list of coaches included Sean Duffy, who will receive a $2,700 stipend as golf coach, Carl Majer, who will receive $8,000 as football coach, Brian Dressler, who will receive $8,000 as boys' soccer coach, Julia Brion, who will receive $7,136 as girls' tennis coach, and Erin Ross, who will receive $3,000 as girls' volleyball coach.

Brookhart, Faulkner, Reichard, Reichard Jr., Umbriac, Vognetz, and Green voted in favor of approving the list. Directors Garman and Hoffman voted against it.

As for new middle school coach hires, Kelly Michaels was unanimously approved as the middle school girls soccer head coach for the 2023-2024 spring season with a stipend of $1,350.

Erika Laverio was also unanimously approved as middle school field hockey head coach for the 2023-2024 spring season with a stipend of $1,350.

A list of assistant spring coaches was unanimously approved. The list included Darien Yeager and Dawes Dunham for middle school track, Drew Pensyl and Sean Doherty for high school track, Alisha Cimino for middle school field hockey and Ken Cooper for high school boys lacrosse.