Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY — Heather Hanson has turned the Athens volleyball around. She guided the Athens volleyball team to its first District championship game appearance in 15 years this fall, and is the 2020-21 Valley Sports Report “Coach of the Year.”

Hanson took over a program that had floundered for a decade under a variety of coaches. In her first year, she took the Lady Wildcats to district playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. In her second season, Athens won its first postseason match since 2006, and this year the Lady Wildcats advanced to their first title match since 2005.

Hanson’s secret: she knows the game, can relay that knowledge to her players, and her players will run through a wall for her, which is really a big key for any successful coach.

Hanson, who was the VSR Volleyball “Coach of the Year,” has 31 wins in three season at Athens.

2020-21 Super 7 Coaches of the Year:
Heather Hanson, volleyball, Athens:
See above.

Jamie VanDuzer, baseball, Sayre: Jamie VanDuzer guided the Sayre baseball team to a District 4 baseball title, and was the VSR Baseball “Coach of the Year.”

This year’s Class AA championship game win was the third in four seasons for VanDuzer. They were runners-up in 2019, dropping a 2-1 decision to South Williamsport.

The Redskins wrapped up the season with a 21-2 record, and are 66-24 in VanDuzer’s four seasons at the helm.

Brian Miller, girls basketball, Athens: Miller directed the Lady Wildcats to a 17-7 record in 2021, including a 54-42 win over Milton in the District 4, Class AAAA quarterfinals. The season ended in the semis with a 32-25 loss at Shamokin.

Athens is 39-12 under Miller the last two seasons.

Scott Riley, track & field, Athens: Riley led the Athens boys to a 10-0 record, and their first  NTL title in seven years. The Athens girls were 8-0-1 and also won an NTL title.

Mickey Farrell, softball, Athens: Farrell guided the Lady Wildcats to a 15-6 record, and a return trip to the District 4, Class 4A playoffs.  The Lady Wildcats are 29-11 in his two years at the helm.

Bob Kelly, girls basketball, Waverly: Kelly directed the Lady Wolverines to an 11-2 record against a very tough schedule. The Lady Wolverines split their season series against Elmira and IAC powerhouse Newark Valley, swept Horseheads, and also added a win over Corning.

Kelly earned his 300th career win, and now has 304. He is 136-27 in eight seasons at Waverly.

Mike Bronson, cross country, Athens: Bronson coached the Wildcat boys to an unbeaten 10-0 record and their second consecutive NTL title. Bronson, along with Scott Riley and Mark Johnson, were named the NTL "Coaching Staff of the Year."