Jeff Ackermann, who once won three consecutive WPIAL basketball championships, apparently will not be back as Moon High School's boys coach.
Ackermann said he was told Thursday by Moon athletic director Ricci Rich that he will not be retained as coach after 13 seasons. Ackermann said the Moon school board will open his position at an April 14 meeting.
"[Rich] said he would give me the weekend to think about if I wanted to resign or not," Ackermann said. "I told him that resigning was not an option. I can't lie to my players. I have to be honest with them. I'm not resigning."
Ackermann said he was "shocked" at the news and informed most of his players with phone calls Sunday. In 13 seasons, he had a 224-116 record and won three consecutive WPIAL Class AAA titles from 2004-06 and one PIAA title in 2004. His 2008 team lost in the WPIAL Class AAAA title game and his teams made the WPIAL playoffs eight times.
But Moon has missed the WPIAL playoffs four of the past five seasons and been 51-59 in that time, including a 9-13 record this year. In four of the past five seasons, Moon was in Class AAAA. For much of Ackermann's tenure, Moon played in Class AAA.
"When I asked why, [Rich] said he did not have a particular reason," said Ackermann, who is a technology education teacher at Chartiers Valley High School. "He said they just felt there wasn't much progress made the past three years. I'll be the first one to admit we didn't win as much as we would like the past three years or as much as the players would've liked. But when you're a small [Class AAAA] school, life is not easy when you're constantly playing schools bigger than you are."
Rich said he couldn't comment because it is a school personnel matter.
"I'll do everything I can to fight this," Ackermann said. "Whether it's a lost cause or not, I don't know. If I don't get it back, I can always hold my head high because I put my heart and soul into this and we were able to accomplish some amazing things at Moon. There are great kids there. You can't win a WPIAL championship every year and can't compete for one every year. We had a run for eight, nine years that was very good. To maintain that for 15, 16 years is really difficult when you just have your own kids in your own community and can't get kids from anywhere."
Black Hawks shine on ice
Bethel Park won the USA Hockey High School National Championship with a 2-1 victory against Providence Catholic (Ill.) Sunday morning in Omaha, Neb.
Bethel Park was invited to the 32-team tournament along with Peters Township, another PIHL team. The Indians finished 1-2. Peters Township beat Bethel Park in the PIHL Class AAA title game a few weeks ago and Peters Township went on to win a state championship.
Bethel Park was 5-0-1 in the national tournament, playing teams from Colorado, Ohio, California, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Chris Siak, Jacob Worcester and Tyler Kruszewski were the leading goal scorers for Bethel Park over the six games.
The team will be honored at an assembly today at Bethel Park High School.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.