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Spring Edition
Volume 100, Number 4

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Messiah alumni athletes take on the mantle of 'coach'

In the winter 2009 issue of The Bridge, we featured Messiah coaches who are making a difference in the lives of our student athletes, and that piece led to an avalanche of stories about Messiah alumni who have become coaches themselves and are transforming athletic programs around the country. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, check out these former Messiah athletes. If you're a Falcon fan, you may remember some of them from their days in the sports program at Messiah.

Brooke Good and Gail Hiestand

Gail Hiestand ’89

Family studies major with a minor in health and physical education

Gail (right) is the head softball coach at Mechanicsburg High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where she’s in her 11th year. She is pictured here with fellow Messiah alum Brooke Good '03, her assistant softball coach who is also the assistant field hockey coach at Messiah.

Athletic history at Messiah: Played softball for coach Cheryl Park

Favorite thing about coaching: “Having a positive influence in the lives of young ladies. There are so many life lessons that are learned by being a part of a team. So it's not just teaching the game of's helping young people learn really valuable life lessons. And passing the "love of the game" on to the next generation is pretty great too!”

Memory from Messiah sports:“I think the thing that stands out the most for me about my playing days at Messiah is the friendships that were formed on and off the field, which were and are invaluable. We were a family and the level of care and concern for one another continues even today....and it's been 20 years. No one really remembers the scores of the games or the season record, but everyone remembers the memories and the friendships that were formed.”

Matt Schwartz

Matt Schwartz ’96

Health and physical education major

Matt currently coaches varsity boys’ soccer at Manheim Central High School in Manheim, Pennsylvania, where he completed his ninth season as head coach in the fall '08.

Athletic history at Messiah: Played soccer for Layton Shoemaker (head coach at the time) and Dave Brandt (assistant coach at the time), and was a member of the volleyball club with coach Dave Truitt for one season

Favorite thing about coaching: “I enjoy being able to create an understanding and love for the game. Watching players improve over the course of their high school career is satisfying, of course. Greater still is that moment you see in a player's eyes that the information given during a practice session all of a sudden makes sense, as they've just gone from being merely a player to a student of the game. But the most rewarding aspect is when players come back after graduation and speak of how their experiences on the soccer team have helped them through life situations they've encountered after graduation. Our playing careers are short by comparison. But the things we learn during those years can and will impact our future choices and actions. Hearing of those successes is priceless.”

Quinn McCullough

Quinn McCullough ’06

Business administration major

Quinn has been at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, for 2 years as head junior varsity basketball coach and assistant baseball coach.

Athletic history at Messiah: Played basketball (2002-2006) for coach Rick Van Pelt and baseball (2005) for coach Frank Montgomery

Favorite thing about coaching: “I enjoy the interaction with students. Seeing students learn a new skill and complete it successfully is enjoyable. Also, I enjoy being a part of teaching the players life skills that will help them when they leave Milton Hershey.”


Memory from Messiah sports: “I remember having a bad practice and finishing with a poor attitude. Coach Van Pelt took me to the side and reinforced what it meant to be a leader and used it as a teaching lesson not only about basketball, but about my future also. Also I have to remember the first trip to the NCAA tournament and winning the MAC title and the excitement that followed our senior season with Steve King and Zach Wiernicki.”

Greg Reiff

Gregory Reiff ’98

Human resource management major

Gary coaches baseball at  Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Pennsylvania, where he has coached for eight 8 years.

Athletic history at Messiah: Played baseball for coach Frank Montgomery

Favorite thing about coaching: "Getting to be around youth and providing them the same opportunity as I had with my former coaches."


Memory from Messiah sports: Playing in the Conference Championships at Scranton Wilkes Barre Stadium (former home of the AAA Red Barons of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Allison Rue

Allison (Harris) Rue ’02

Sport and exercise science major

Allison is head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach for field hockey at Pitman High School, in Pitman, N.J. (her alma mater). She’s been there seven years.

Athletic history at Messiah : Played field hockey for coaches Jan Trapp, Kathy Sassman, Jen Jacobs, Jen Coryell, Erica Abrams

Favorite thing about coaching: “Coaching field hockey has allowed me to pour into the lives of these young girls and help them to achieve what I know they are capable of. It is easy for me to see what my players can accomplish, but to help a teenage girl believe she can do something and actually achieve, is what coaching is really about. I love to help the girls set goals and work hard to achieve them, because I know that this will help them well beyond the hockey field.”

Memory from Messiah sports:“I remember standing on Rowan’s field after the men’s soccer team had won the national title in 2000, and saying to my teammates, “We’re going to be here next year.” By the grace of God, we came into our 2001 season (my senior year) ready to get there. My entire senior season is forever etched into my mind and heart because of what we accomplished, what we overcame, and the spiritual journey that we all traveled together during that time. We made it to the national championship game, but unfortunately we didn’t come home with the title. We did however come home with the joy of knowing that each game had been a gift and an opportunity to shine His light for each opponent, referee and spectator to see. 

Aside from those wonderful memories, the field hockey team at Messiah will always hold a special place in my heart because they will always be a part of my testimony. I came to Messiah thinking I was a Christian. But after spending hours of practice, meals, a service project and road trips with the field hockey team, I was faced with the reality that there was something so much bigger to the Christian life than I had ever experienced. The girls on the field hockey team lived out the Christian walk and helped me to see what playing “for Him!” (as we shouted before each game) really meant. I love those girls and I am eternally grateful that the Lord used them to help open my eyes to the truth."

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Read about summer sports camps at Messiah College

Read the coaches feature from last issue

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