High School Sports

2 longtime Penns Valley coaches are stepping down. Here’s what they meant to the community

Penns Valley girls basketball coach Karen McCaffrey is stepping down after more than 20 yards with the Lady Rams program.
Penns Valley girls basketball coach Karen McCaffrey is stepping down after more than 20 yards with the Lady Rams program. adrey@centredaily.com

Two of Penns Valley’s longtime coaches — girls’ basketball coach Karen McCaffrey and boys’ soccer coach Scott Case — have decided to step down after more than four combined decades with the district, the school announced Wednesday.

Although there were rumblings in the spring that both were considering hanging it up, their decisions became official last month. The Rams are hoping to fill both coaching vacancies by the end of the month, with the new hirings finalized at June’s school board meeting.

Still, Penns Valley’s athletic director acknowledged it won’t be easy to fill the shoes of two coaches who have been around for longer than this year’s graduating seniors have been alive.

“Just look at the average lifespan of coaches these days,” Rams AD Nate Althouse said. “Their longevity speaks to how much of an impact they’ve made in the community. Coaching is a tough life and it takes a toll on family and prevents you from doing things you’d usually want to do with your time; I just think that shows their commitment to these kids and this community.

“It’s hard for me to even think about what we’re going to do next.”

Case was instrumental in building the soccer program. In fact, he’s been the program’s only coach since the team started in 1997.

During that time, he won four league championships and a district title. When Althouse emailed him about his own top accomplishments, to share with the media, Case instead sent a list of his players and how they succeeded in college and in life.

“He told me, ‘That’s what matters most,’” Althouse said with a laugh. “And that’s what you want in coaches; you want coaches who are developing people. That’s what he really took pride in.

“And you can say the same thing about Karen. You look at how their kids developed; they play hard and they play clean.”

McCaffrey coached the girls’ basketball team for 21 total years, taking a four-year break around 2010 to watch her daughter play in college. During her time at the helm, she racked up seven league titles to go with her school-record 341 career wins.

In addition, McCaffrey helped guide the program to its second district title in 2018. And she took her last two teams to the Sweet 16 at PIAAs.

“Above all, the amount of time she puts in is incredible,” Althouse said. “I don’t know if people understand how much it takes to be that good for so long. It’s early morning shootarounds, it’s taking kids to summer camps — she’s the picture of class.”

When the Lady Rams fell to Penn Cambria in the district championship this past season, Penn Cambria’s administration made it a point to reach out to Althouse and commend the team on how classy they were in defeat.

That kind of reputation followed both coaches, two staples of the community that’ll be sorely missed after starting their Penns Valley coaching careers in the ’90s.

“They both represented the school so well — for so long,” Althouse said.