After listening to impassioned pleas from players and parents, the Panther Valley School Board on Thursday voted 6-3 to keep girls' basketball coach Josh Wank on the job.

School directors Anthony DeMarco, David Hiles, Koreen Nalesnik, Richard Zabroski, Irene Genther and Bill Hunsicker voted to keep Wank.

School directors Mickey Angst, Michelle Markovich and board president Jeff Markovich voted to open the position.

Wank has coached the team for three years.

Lady Panthers forward Trayvonda Rice wept as she described how Wank had taught her skills not only for basketball, but for life.

"He is an amazing coach," she said. "We not only became a team, we became a family."

Trayvonda was among 10 people who spoke on Wank's behalf.

Only one person, Debra Evans, criticized the coach.

Evans said he had belittled her daughter, and froze her out after she and others spoke to the school board about what they said was cruel and unfair treatment from Wank.

Coaching high school sports is a chance to help kids build character, she said.

"It's not just about winning," she added.

The others were supportive of the coach.

James Mikovich urged the board to give Wank more time, saying it takes five or six years to build a good program.

"I always tell my daughter, the game of basketball is like the game of life: You only get out of it what you put into it," he said.

Pam Zlock, whose daughter Samantha is a forward on the team, cited statistics in her praise of Wank.

Samantha Zlock told the board that although Wank's yelling and standards have brought plyers to tears, they have also made the girls better players.

"He believes in us," she said.

Just before the board voted, Jeff Markovich spoke on the matter, saying he had seen Wank make players cry, and criticized the coach's performance.

"Life is about winning and losing. There are winners, and there are losers," he said.

Markovich also chastised those parents who, he suggested, care more about sports than academics.

"Last year, we sat in this board room, and cut 21 academic programs. There wasn't a parent in the audience. Tonight, we look at changing a coach, and it's standing room only," he said. "How wrong is that?"