FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> The softball game was about the same as all those Methacton played over the past four decades.
The winning outcome also resembled the more than 500 the program logged in that same span.
But Wednesday’s matchup between the Warriors and Perkiomen Valley bore more significance than being a clash between the neighboring Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals. It marked the end of an era.
The game was a going-away celebration for head coach Cathy Miller, who recently announced she was stepping away from the position after 41 years.
PHOTO GALLERY: Methacton-Perkiomen Valley Softball 5.11.22
The occasion brought an outpouring of former players, assistant coaches, families of current and former players and a crowd of fans acknowledging Miller’s illustrious coaching career … one highlighted by a 538-241 record at present, 16 Suburban One and one PAC championship, 30 district-level playoff appearances and the 1994 District 1 title.
“It was for the fun of the game,” Miller said after watching her team close out the regular season with an 8-2 victory over PV. “It’s supposed to be fun.”
Miller and her program fueled the fun with a legacy of success in those years. Of 40 seasons logged – the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the spring 2020 season — only four were marred by losing records. Then there was a major milestone achieved recently: Win number 500, coming in April 2019 with a 7-2 victory over Upper Perkiomen.
“Cathy was not only a great coach, she was a great person,” Katie Civitello, one of Miller’s varsity assistants and a former player of hers, said. “I enjoyed playing for her and getting to coach with her, seeing how she is. I learned something new from her every day.”
Dr. Paul Spiewak, the district’s Assistant Principal for Athletics and Activities, pointed out the significance of Miller’s lengthy tenure by comparing it to his own.
“I’ve been here 20 years,” he said. “That to me is a long time. But when I got here, she was already a legend.
“She had the same smile, and a love for the job.”
A number of trappings at the ballfield indicated the game was more than a usual regular-season contest. The photo boards, green and yellow balloons attached to the first- and third-base fences, Miller’s name spelled out in white crepe paper on the center field fence … it all celebrated an iconic personality characterized by her trademark plaid Gatsby cap and a thousand-megawatt smile displayed on a majority of the photo board pictures.
And it all came together on very short notice.
“The people who were students, who came back as adults,” Spiewak noted, “that shows the impact Cathy had.”
The Warriors’ winning outcome was the product of the team wanting to send their beloved head coach into retirement on a positive note.
“We weren’t sure she was done until (Wednesday),” Caitlin Woolbert, a senior and the team’s starting catcher, recalled. “When we learned it, we all wanted to win for her. She’s a great lady who cared about all of us.”
A testament to Miller’s longevity was offered by Tessa (Crist) Dunbar, who operated the scoreboard for the game. A second-baseman for the Warriors during her high-school days (2008-11), Dunbar recalled how her aunt, Wendy DiDomenico played on the program’s first team in 1979.
“I loved having her as a coach,” she said, “especially her pep talks. She motivated us, and always wanted us to win. That’s one thing I remember about her.”
Another player, Katie Hull, lauded Miller for her communication skills.
“She was willing to listen to what we have to say,” Hull said. “She was into getting how the girls thought. And she’s passionate. I admire her for that.”
Nicole Timko, another senior and Methacton’s right fielder, remembers Miller as someone who “wanted the best for everyone.”
“She wanted everyone to succeed,” Timko recalled. “She expected a lot from everyone. As freshmen or sophomores, she wanted them playing at the level of juniors or seniors.
“She made sure we didn’t forget the basics, to not forget the basic skills.”
In Wednesday’s game, Methacton (4-6 Liberty, 8-8 PAC) wasn’t headed after home runs by Riley Kairer and Timko erased PV’s initial 2-0 lead in the early going. The Warriors added two in the fourth inning and three in the sixth, Timko driving in four runs off 3-for-3 hitting that included a pair of doubles.
That afforded Miller the opportunity to pose for photos with some of the fans who turned out for the game.
“Getting people out was no problem, once they heard it was coach’s last game,” Civitello said.
For her retirement, Miller — a 1968 Methacton graduate who played lacrosse in high school and college because softball wasn’t an athletic offering — has some modest plans.
“A little golf, and seeing my grandsons,” she said. “I had a good run.”
NOTES >> The loss left Perkiomen Valley 2-6 in the division, 8-6 in the league. Isabella DiRaimondo headed the offense going 3-for-3. … Miller revealed her trademark hat was one she purchased at Zern’s early in her coaching career. She joked about leaving it for the school to display in one of its trophy cases.
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