Moravian's Spirk, others had more grand plans than coaching

Mary Beth Spirk hit the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1981 after graduating from Dickinson Law School.

She wanted to be a defense attorney, but couldn't get a job.

So Spirk returned to the Lehigh Valley to work at what is now KidsPeace, an organization that works with children with mental and behavioral issues.

Spirk also was an assistant women's basketball coach at Moravian College.

"I liked coaching, but it wasn't my dream," Spirk said.

But when Moravian's head coaching job opened up, Spirk applied and was hired.

Twenty-seven seasons and 501 wins later (entering Wednesday night's game at Scranton), Spirk is still coaching.

"It wasn't about the success," she said. "It was about having a really good job working with young kids who are intelligent and will listen.

"Moravian was such a good fit for me."

Spirk, who also is an associate professor and senior women's administrator at Moravian, isn't the only area college basketball coach who had other plans after college.

Muhlenberg women's coach Ron Rohn still dreams of making a movie, maybe a documentary about an important contributor to film such as Martin Scorcese, or an intelligent sports movie like "Chariots of Fire."

The Fordham graduate with a communications degree became a graduate assistant for the Rams and only picks up a camera at the end of every season when he makes a highlight reel of that team.

"Being a movie director is similar to being a basketball coach," he said. "You bring all these parts together and there is a story of a team.

"Every year is like it's own film with how it starts, how you piece it together. What's the end of the story going to be?"

Moravian men's mentor Jim Walker loves reading stories. Better still, he'd love to write one when he's done coaching.

"Journalism is something I could be excited about," he said. "In my retirement, I'm going to do some writing. I keep collecting ideas. I have a folder."

Walker spent 13 years teaching high school social studies and was an assistant principal for five years.

He knows the demands on a college athlete. He was the No. 1 singles tennis player at Gettysburg College and even played professionally one summer in Philadelphia.

Walker spent three decades coaching tennis at Moravian and is in his 35th season as the men's basketball coach.

"My ideas now are mostly biographical or event oriented," Walker said. "Mostly in sports journalism."





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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