Pfeffer hired as new coach for AAHS | News, Sports, Jobs

Pfeffer

By Michel Boytim

mboytim@altoonamirror.com

The Altoona Area School Board hired Doug Pfeffer Monday night after a unanimous vote to be the Mountain Lions’ fourth head boys basketball coach in eight seasons.

Pfeffer has coached Altoona’s ninth-grade boys’ basketball for the past six seasons.

“It’s really important that he’s been around all of our kids and been in our system,” said Altoona sporting director Phil Riccio. “He’s a guy from Altoona. We have Vince (Nedimyer Jr.) running football who’s an Altoona guy, and we have Doug running Altoona basketball who’s an Altoona guy, and I think that’s really important. We need pride and competitiveness. The “come to you with everything, win, lose or draw” attitude on the pitch. I am delighted to work with Doug and am looking for a good start.

Altoona finished 4-19 last season and saw its season end with a 63-42 loss to State College in the Class 6A District 6 Championship Game. Jarrod Klausman quit to spend more time with his young family shortly after that game after three seasons on the bench for the Mountain Lions – two of which included District 6 titles.

Although Altoona emerged victorious in the district in Klausman’s first two seasons, the Lions struggled to find a place in the Mid-Penn Conference.

“I expect us to play every game” said Pfeffer. “We’re in a tough and brutal conference, but we’re going to do our best every night we’re on the field. I’m just asking that I see improvement from game to game. The wins and losses will take care of themselves, but we need the effort of the coaching staff and the players to make this program a success.

Pfeffer graduated from AAHS in 1990, played for Larry Betar and later served with him as an assistant coach. Pfeffer continued the job he was hired for Monday since.

“Since graduating from high school, it has always been my dream to be the head basketball coach of the Altoona Mountain Lions,” said Pfeffer. “It didn’t work out a few times, and my family told me to go one last time, and I’m glad I did and it worked. I’m just happy to be part of the rich tradition Altoona Mountain Lion Basketball.

Riccio said Pfeffer’s desire to lead the Mountain Lions stood out.

“It showed me a lot of character, because he applied before and didn’t get it,” Rico said. “Coming back again, and as strong as he came back to it, says a lot about his character and his willingness to fight through adversity and take rejection and grind until you get the positive. It’s what we want our coaches to be and what we want our kids to be.

Prior to his six-year stint as ninth-grade boys coach, Pfeffer coached the seventh-grade team for three years.

“I think it helps a lot” Rico said. “Kids know the system, he knows the building, he knows the logistics, the expectations off the field and the things that need to happen in the school building during the school day. This gives him a head start on the game.

Pfeffer, who just turned 50, is a juvenile probation officer.

“The Mid-Penn is a tough conference” said Pfeffer. “Night after night you play against the best teams in the state. We have to have the attitude that we can compete and win these games. For the past two years, even if the record didn’t show it, they competed. I saw this first hand. We just have to turn the corner and win some of these tight games in the fourth quarter instead of losing. Once we start winning it becomes contagious and we need the players to have that mentality that we are going to win.

Pfeffer was asked what would be considered a successful first year.

“A Mid-Penn winning record, a district title, and progress through the state playoffs as far as we can go,” said Pfeffer. “At some point, and I’m not saying it will be this year, but competing for a state title in the next two years.”

Pfeffer said one of the ways he plans to do this is to increase the numbers within Altoona’s basketball program.

“I want to involve as many children as possible in the team”, said Pfeffer. “That way we see the talent and we can choose. If we have numbers, we have a better chance of making the Mid-Penn and state playoffs. I will work with the other school district coaches at the high school level. Maybe we are missing athletes in the football team, the athletics team who can help us. We need numbers, and hopefully a fresh start with a new coach could bring out more players.

The Mirror’s Cati Keith contributed to this story

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