AAHS begins search for two coaches

West, Colledge stepping down

Altoona Area High School is looking for not one but two new basketball coaches.

Doug West and Miriam Colledge informed their players this week of plans to step down and plan to submit letters of resignation to be acted upon at the June 11 board meeting.

West, the former 12-year NBA veteran, spent the last three seasons coaching at his alma mater and compiled a record of 26-41.

He’s moving on to a basketball and business opportunity in Philadelphia called Ball Beyond that focuses on training, development and representation of athletes at all levels. He will also be coaching girls basketball at Westtown School, a private boarding school in West Chester that attracts top-level prospects.

West called the decision “really tough” but is also looking forward to moving to the Philly area, where his longtime girlfriend, Anita Jennings, and her family have been living and where his son, Tyson, will be a graduate assistant in the Villanova basketball program.

“I’ve been away from my family for two years,” he said. “The opportunity came up with Ball Beyond and boarding school, and with all that’s taking place, I just thought it was time.”

West, who turns 52 on Monday, said he appreciated the support he received in his three years at Altoona and at Penn State Altoona, where he served one season (2015-16) as the Lions’ head coach.

“I’m ecstatic about the relationships I’ve made at Penn State and the high school,” he said. “Between the camaraderie of the staff and administration, there’s been a lot of welcoming. I appreciate the support — the positive and the negative — and hopefully the lessons I learned will help me as I move along.”

The Mountain Lions went 8-15 last year while transitioning into the Mid-Penn Conference.

“Even without our won-loss record wasn’t what we wanted, I feel they grew playing in the Mid-Penn, and I thought we finished up well,” West said. “It’s a very talented group who will now be seniors (in 2019-20), and there’s a lot of room for growth.”

Phil Riccio, Altoona Area’s athletic director, praised West’s efforts.

“I thought Doug did a lot of great things and was building us back,” he said. “There was a lot of progress. The kids respected him. The school respected him. He’ll be missed.”

Colledge guided the Lady Lions for five seasons, posting a 79-42 record that included three District 6 Class 6A championships.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity,” Colledge said. “I was granted the greatest opportunity in the world. It’s been five years of adversity and success. I’ve met many great young ladies and forged great relationships. I hope all the girls who came through were able to take something away.”

Colledge, who played for Altoona in the early 1980s under Art Taneyhill when the program was establishing itself as a state power, thanked her players, assistant coaches, the school board, administration and community.

“I feel coaching is a conduit for memories, and I’ve been blessed with so many good ones,” she said.

She’s resigning to spend more time with family. Colledge and her husband, Mike, have three grown sons.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last five years but now is the next chapter to devote more time to my family, to travel, to participate in activites and see some of my former players play at the collegiate level,” she said. “It’s all about my family — holiday times, people in town, and you have to leave, for practice or games, and you miss out.”

Colledge, 56 and an English teacher at the Altoona Junior High, is proud of her tenure, which included Altoona’s first interdistrict playoff win (2018) in 14 years.

She developed several college prospects, including a pair going Division I — graduating senior Bridgid Fox (Detroit Mercy) and rising senior Caranda Perea (George Washington).

“The future of the program is in good hands,” she said. “We have a lot of talented and energetic young ladies. Three starters and a lot of experienced players return. They’re not starting with a bare cupboard.”

Riccio thanked Colledge, saying, “She gave us everything she had. She did a lot of great things with the program, especially through some tough patches. To have a former Lady Lion being the coach of the Lady Lions is important.”

Riccio hopes to have both jobs posted before June 11 and wants to accelerate the search.

“We’re going to get the best candidates,” he said. “There are strong people in the area. We’ve just got to see who steps forward.”