Last Updated: Wed Aug 24, 2022 - 3:33AM
As much success as Craig Spisak enjoyed guiding the Yough Cougars baseball team in recent years, there was always one program to which he aspired – the Norwin Knights. When Norwin had an opening this offseason following the retirement of longtime head coach Mike Liebdzinski, Spisak made the decision to apply.
Earlier this week, Spisak was approved as the new head coach for Norwin, as he inherits one of the most successful teams in Western Pennsylvania.
“As I coached at Yough, that was a program we strived to be like,” he said of the Knights. “It’s a very strong 6A program - probably one of the premier programs in the WPIAL.”
Spisak’s coaching career dates back to 2000, when he joined Yough as an assistant. That year, the Cougars captured the first section title in team history. Since that time, Spisak has been a component of five other section-winning squads, including the last three as Yough’s head coach.
In addition to coaching stops at Belle Vernon Area and Mount Pleasant, Spisak guided the Cougars for the past seven years. This past campaign, Yough went 11-8 overall, and 8-2 to win Class 3A Section 4. After edging Mount Pleasant Area in the first round, the Cougars fell to Mohawk in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Norwin also lost in the quarterfinals, as the Knights dropped a 5-2 outcome to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the 6A bracket. In 2021, though, Norwin reached the district semifinals, and the Knights also captured the WPIAL title in 2016.
While Spisak helped build expectations as Yough, the bar is set even higher at Norwin, where championships are the vision.
“I think that should be a reasonable goal every year,” Spisak said of Norwin’s title aspirations.
“It’s all about work ethic and attitude,” he continued. “I’m a big fan of the weight room. That was my biggest stamp that I put on Yough baseball.”
While that stamp will likely stay with the Cougars in years to come, Spisak’s decision to leave Cougar Mountain made Monday a bittersweet day, as he met with his Yough players one final time.
“It was a very difficult decision. They made the decision hard, because I enjoyed coaching those kids so much,” he said.
Spisak expects to meet his new team before the end of this week, and begin preparing for fall baseball as early as next week.