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B-A hires new softball, volleyball coaches

The Bellwood-Antis School Board approved new high school girls volleyball and softball coaches Tuesday evening.

Jannell (Wilt) McKinney, a 2008 Bellwood-Antis graduate, hopes she gets the opportunity to lead the Lady Blue Devils’ girls volleyball team if the PIAA keeps the Aug. 24 start date for fall sports in place.

“We are taking temperatures, wearing masks and washing our hands,” McKinney said. “The coaches are all wearing masks. The girls and parents have been great. Right now, we are full-steam ahead and really hoping that we get to have a season.”

McKinney takes over for former coach Annette Wilkins.

“I definitely want to redevelop the program,” McKinney said. “I want it to be competitive and be the program it was when I was at school. I want to get it back to the competition level that I think we should be at.”

Bellwood-Antis athletic director Charlie Burch said McKinney’s love of the sport helped make it an easy hire.

“She’s a Bellwood-Antis graduate that went on to play college volleyball at Penn State Altoona,” Burch said. “Over the years, she has continued to coach at local camps. We’re excited to have her leading our program.”

Bellwood-Antis also hired James Bollinger to take over as the Lady Blue Devils varsity softball coach after Jim Payne retired in the spring.

“James is leaving his current position as the head junior high softball coach and moving into the varsity position,” Burch said. “He has background in baseball and switched over to softball because of his daughter. He has a great well-rounded background in baseball and softball, and we feel he’ll do a great job.”

Bollinger’s familiarity with the players in the softball program due to his three years coaching at the junior high level helped the decision.

“It should be a very easy transition,” Burch said. “He’s very dedicated.”

Caroline Showalter, a recent Bellwood-Antis softball standout, accepted Bollinger’s junior high job.

“When I was the junior high coach, Jim Payne was the varsity coach, and he really helped me out a lot,” Bollinger said. “I coached baseball for 24 years, and even though baseball and softball are kind of similar, they are different. I’m very lucky that I had someone like Coach Payne teach me the way of softball and guide me. He made it so easy. Using that moving forward to coach the varsity is going to be awesome.”

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