Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
As much as she might hate to admit it, Katy DeMedal knows who to thank for much of her athletic success.
The former Katy Killmer always tagged along with her older brother, Rob, and his friends to play sports and ultimately was included in most of their athletic ventures.
“I hate to say this, but I have to thank him for everything,” DeMedal said of her brother, who went on to a successful athletic career at Westminster College. “I always played backyard basketball with him and his friends. He toughened me up and got me prepared. He wasn’t easy on me.
“Sports were all I did. That what I wanted to do in my spare time. Whenever it was nice out, we played outside and I loved it. I got better with time.”
ENTERING THE HALL
DeMedal had to break out momentos from her playing days at Wilmington High and Westminster College when first was notified of her induction into the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame.
“I started panicking,” she said with a chuckle. “Men can remember everything about their sports careers and I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. I had to dig out my scrapbooks.”
The 51-year-old mother of three will join 11 other inductees on May 4 when they enter the hall of fame at the New Englander.
“It’s an honor,” said the New Wilmington resident, who with her husband, Bob, are the parents of Liz, Jake and Spencer, all former or current athletic standouts at Wilmington High. “I started to think about my kids. They’re everywhere, so it’s not going to be easy getting them all here for the ceremony to share it with them, but the rest of my family will be there. It’ll be nice to have them there.”
Despite having no organized skills training, DeMedal quickly made a name for herself on the basketball court, leading Wilmington to a handful of WPIAL playoff appearances.
“I consider myself something of a dinosaur,” said the Associate Director of Career Center at Westminster. “Back when I played, I didn’t have anything available to me until ninth grade. At Wilmington, we had a really good league, but we played in the fall. We had to wait for the ‘normal’ section to finish. We’d go to the playoffs, but we’d have to sit around and wait. Inevitably, we’d face North Catholic in the playoffs and get killed.
“It was frustrating. I didn’t understand why we were in the fall league and I still don’t know why we did that. Looking back, that was the most disappointing thing of my high school career.”
DeMedal did reach the 1,000-point milestone near the end of her senior year and finished with 1,013 points.
“Katy was quite an athlete,” said Dennis Miller, who coached DeMedal when she played for the Wilmington Doves slo-pitch softball team. “She gave it 110 percent in whatever sport she tried. She was one of the first girls that I saw dive across the floor to get a loose ball. She would do that in softball, too, sliding into a base. In those days, the girls wore shorts, so she’d end up with quite the bruise. She didn’t think twice about doing it. It didn’t scare her in the least.”
In the summers, DeMedal played for the Doves during her early teenage years. The Doves won a regional ASA tournament before finishing ninth out of 63 teams in a national tournament in Georgia.
She later joined another slo-pitch team, the Conneaut Lake Lakerettes.
“She was one of the big guns in that tournament,” Miller said. “She was our shortstop and was very skilled. She had good range and could really throw the ball. We stressed playing defense over hitting the ball because we figured anybody could hit it. We had a bunch of good athletes and Katy was among of the best of them.”
After graduating from high school in 1980, DeMedal initially found her way to Washington & Jefferson, where she starred on the basketball court for a season before transferring to Westminster.
She would go on to earn three more letters in basketball and a pair in softball before graduating in 1984.
“I had a good experience at W&J, but decided to come back and go to Westminster,” she said. “Like a lot of college kids, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I came back to major in business.”
In the spring of her senior year, DeMedal had a decision to make — play softball or take a part-time job with Rockwell International.
She ultimately chose Rockwell with Westminster softball coach Wayne “Doc” Christy’s blessing.
“They offered me a job after my internship,” DeMedal said. “Doc told me to follow my heart. He fully supported me in making that decision. I decided to give up my senior year in softball. I eventually got a job there after I graduated and that’s where I met my husband, so I guess it happened for a reason.”
With her work hours being in the evening after completing her studies, DeMedal knew there would be no time for softball.
“It was a tough, tough decision to give up my senior year in softball,” she said. “You can’t serve two masters and that’s something I’ve stressed to my kids. I knew it wouldn’t be fair to my teammates to miss practices and just show up for games.”
In 2000, DeMedal decided to apply for the vacant girls basketball coaching post at Wilmington and was put through the ringer by then-principal Andy Tommelleo before he gave her the job.
“I had never coached before, but Andy put me through the most rigorous interview,” she said. “He made me come up with practice schedules and game situations. It was probably the best thing that happened to me.”
The Lady Greyhounds struggled for the most part over the next seven years with DeMedal at the helm, but qualified for the District 10 playoffs at the conclusion of the 2005-06 season with a 17-8 record.
When DeMedal resigned to spend more time with her family after the 2007 season, she had compiled a 56-114 record over seven seasons.
“The program had gone completely to pot and we won one game that first year,” DeMedal said. “I can truly say that we got better every year. I feel I helped the program move in the right direction. We didn’t win and that killed me. I quit, because I cared more about the game than my players did. It ate me alive. My kids were getting older and I didn’t want to miss their games. It would have been a conflict for me.”
TOMORROW: Mark Manifrang.