An era is coming to an end.
Mike Hogan, Northern Cambria’s volleyball coach for 30 years, guided his girls’ team through his last regular-season home match Thursday night.
Of course, the Colts won, like they usually do, sweeping United, 25-28, 25-16, 25-14, and setting up a rematch with the Lions on Monday in the Heritage Conference semifinals.
What made this one especially poignant was that Northern Cambria officials arranged a surprise celebration for the retiring coach that included his family, friends and former players and students.
“They did a real nice thing for he here tonight,” Hogan said. I had some family come, and a lot of people came in for it, and they had a lot of great gifts for me and made a big announcement. I didn’t know about any of it. I’m super-appreciative of all that. It was a really nice event, it really was.”
The Hogan name is synonymous with Northern Cambria volleyball — and winning. Northern Cambria has won three state titles, including the past two in Class 1A. The once-beaten Colts play in Class 2A this season, and they are a contender.
“I coached the boys for five or six years,” Hogan said, “and we had a good run at that when my son was coming through. “I got to coach my children, and they all loved playing, and it’s been super-rewarding to be able to spend times with kids that love playing. I got to coach my children, and they all loved playing, and it was super-rewarding for to be able to spend time with kids that love playing. It makes me a better person, a better teacher, a better coach, it’s something that I’m sort of known for and what I do and kind of who you are, and that all kind of blended together and made it a really good run.”
Hogan coached all four of his children: Ashley, Russell, Jeffrey and now Maggie, who is a senior this year.
Both daughters were part of state championship teams, with Ashley getting hers in 2005. Maggie committed to St. Francis in the spring, and the coach and his wife, Terry, plan to follow her career. He is 54 and has to put in a couple more years as a teacher until he can retire.
Then it’s onto the finer things in life: following Maggie’s career, traveling with his wife, catching up on the hunting and fishing and golf that he missed over the years.
“I have a lot of hobbies,” he said. “I enjoy the outdoors and love traveling with my wife. Those are things I had to put on the backburner because they’re hard to do if you dedicate yourself to good coaching.”
There still are matches to play. The Colts are the top seed in the conference tournament. Third-seeded Homer-Center plays at second-seeded West Shamokin in Monday’s other semifinal. It’s a good bet Northern Cambria and West Shamokin, which split their two regular-season matches, will meet in the championship match on the Colts’ court on Wednesday. Both semifinal matches and the championship match start at 7 p.m., with the final played on the court of the highest remaining seed.
Then it’s on to the District 6 tournament. The Class 2A tournament playing dates are Nov. 2, 4, 6 and 10. The Class 1A dates are Nov. 2, 3, 5 and 7.
The PIAA has yet to list tournament dates.
Thursday’s match also marked senior night for the Colts.
“All the senior played really well,” Hogan said. “Camryn Dumm and Maggie led the way, and Emma Kollar had a good match in the middle. Kayla Boring chipped in three or four digs. It was nice to see a good, balanced team effort.”
As usual, Hogan was quick to point out the attributes of the opposing team.
“Maizee Fry has probably 11 kills and six blocks for United,” he said. She played a good game. And I thought they played great defense and dug out some balls and brought them back at us. It made it a fun match with the way United played defense.
“Now we have to turn around and play them again, so that will be fun.”
United won the junior varsity match, 25-19, 25-18.