Girls volleyball still thriving under Gesiskie
ROB MERCHANT/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley girls volleyball is still thriving under John Gesiskie, its only head coach.
John Gesiskie never expected to be coaching volleyball this long.
Pleasant Valley probably didn't anticipate the level of success the program has attained.
But 17 years after Gesiskie was entrusted to form the first volleyball team at Pleasant Valley, he is still the only coach the program has ever known and the Bears are still winning.
Gesiskie recently passed the 300th win mark in his career and now owns a 304-179 record. That mark includes five Mountain Valley Conference championships and a 50-match MVC win streak.
"I think anytime you reach a milestone like 300 wins, you naturally look back and reflect a little bit on all that has gone into it," said Gesiskie. "One of my goals as a coach has always been to help the girls improve. Not everyone has the physical ability to be a Divsion I college player, but I've always told my players that if they have the drive and determination, I'll help them become better players.
"The players' reward for the time and effort they put into volleyball is wins. My reward is to see them improve."
Gesiskie has had a chance to see plenty of improvement over the years more years and more improvement than he could have anticipated when then Athletic Director Chris Fisher approached him about starting the program back in 1993.
"The first year we just played club ball," said Gesiskie. "I think it was 1994 that we played our first varsity matches. I never thought I'd still be coaching all these years later. But it's really been enjoyable and the years have flown by.
"That first year we won just two matches, but the following year we won 14 and qualified for the District 11 Tournament. From that point on, we've been pretty successful."
The Bears' most successful stretch came between 2002-06 when they captured all five of their MVC titles and put together their long winning streak.
That run of success also coincided with Gesiskie's daughters Nikki, Jamie and Jackie being part of the program. Nikki, a 2003 Pleasant Valley grad, was part of the Bears first championship team in 2002. Jamie, who graduated in '05, played on three championship teams in her career. Jackie, a 2007 PV grad, played on four MVC title teams during her years with the Bears.
Not surprisingly, that stretch when Gesiskie got to coach his daughters holds special meaning for him.
"They were very memorable years," said Gesiskie. "My wife Kathleen has been my assistant for all 17 years and for us to be fortunate enough to coach all three of our daughters was something very special. When you add in the fact that we were able to win championships with all of them, it's something I'll never forget."
Gesiskie, whose current team has a 14-6 record, said he enjoys coaching as much now as he did when he first started the program. He also takes pride in the fact that he has had over 20 girls go on to play college ball, including a pair of Division I players in Laura Leis (Temple) and Brittney Hanley (LaSalle), and several others have become volleyball coaches.
"It always rewarding to see players you coached play at the next level or get into coaching.," said Gesiskie. "But as nice as it is to see young girls turn into outstanding athletes, it's not nearly as fulfilling as it is to have a role in molding them into outstanding young women.
"Being a coach is so much more than just preparing your players to get wins. Being a coach means preparing your players for life and that is the most rewarding part of my 17 years as a coach."
O-FER SINGLES ... Area tennis players went winless in the opening round of the District 11 Singles Tournament held last Thursday and Friday at the West End Racquet and Fitness Center in Allentown.
Thursday in the Class AA opening round, Tamaqua's Lauren Androkitis, Vanessa Wagner and Jordan Nowacki; Jim Thorpe's Ellyn Tomko and Anna Domingo; and Palmerton's Kayla Strohl were all swept in best-of-three matches.
Friday in Class AAA, Pleasant Valley's Kristin Cook suffered the same fate as she lost her opening round match in straight games.
The District 11 Doubles Tournament will begin tomorrow in Class AA and on Friday in Class AAA.
In Class AA, Tamaqua will be represented by Jordan Nowacki and Vanessa Wagner. Jim Thorpe will have a pair of teams. Ellyn Tomko and Anna Domingo will be one and the other will be comprised Kasey Herman and Gabby Kline.
In Class AAA, Pleasant Valley's entry in the tournament will be Emily Skutnik and Nicole Reeder.
HOW SWEEP IT WAS ... Weatherly's three-game sweep of Jim Thorpe in volleyball on Monday not only improved its overall record to 10-4, but it secured the school's first-ever District 11 volleyball playoff berth.
GETTING HIS KICKS ... Pleasant Valley's Malik Krcic had quite a three-day stretch last week.
On Tuesday, playing for the Bears' soccer team, Krcic had a hat trick in a victory over East Stroudsburg South. He followed that up on Friday by kicking a pair of field goals and four extra points for the PV football team in a victory over Pocono Mountain West.
CENTURY MARK AND FAST ... Lehighton field hockey coach Shawn Hindy picked up his 100th career victory on Friday when the Indians defeated Pleasant Valley, 1-0.
It didn't take Hindy long to reach that mark as he is in just his fifth year as head coach. After beating the Bears last week, Hindy's career mark stood at an impressive 100-10-1.
RIVALRY WEEK ... This week is like Rivalry Week for Northwestern and Northern Lehigh.
Three games will take place over three days between the two schools. And each game includes a special event in conjunction with the contest.
On Thursday, both schools' soccer teams square off at Tiger Stadium at 7 p.m. (JV game at 5:30). It is Senior Night for Northwestern.
Friday's football game in New Tripoli features two of the Colonial League's best teams as well as the first ever live broadcast by Blue Ridge Cables's high school football highlight show Friday Night Football.
Saturday's field hockey game, also at Northwestern, will include a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1990 state championship team. Team members from the '90 Lady Tigers will be recognized. The varsity teams play at 10 a.m. The JV game will follow at 11:15 a.m.
Northwestern athletic director Jason Zimmerman said, "This week truly is the epitome of what high school sports is all about."