Baron Athletics

Athletics Overview – Autumn 2023

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Baron Athletics

Athletics Overview – Autumn 2023

The latest in Baron sports.

Autumn 2023

In This Article

Our Senior Basketball Sensation

When most men reach their 70s, they begin to slow down. New aches and pains remind them they are not as young as they used to be.

At 71, Bill DiPiero, is not one of them. Every time he steps on the basketball court, he just seems to get younger— and better.

“Honestly, at 60, I was a better shooter than I was at 20,” says DiPiero, former Barons assistant men’s and women’s basketball coach and current women’s golf coach. “Today, I’m in better shape than I was at 40. I’ve been given a gift of health, and some basketball talent, and I just have a sense of obligation to honor that.”

DiPiero has been honoring his God-given gifts by playing senior basketball for 20 years and racking up multiple tournament wins and MVP awards.

In the past 15 months, his 70-plus basketball team has been on an extraordinary winning streak.

Last year, they won the National Seniors Tournament in Coral Springs, Florida, and DiPiero won MVP. Then they won their division in the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, where he scored MVP honors again. Early this year, they returned to Coral Springs, won again, and DiPiero got his third MVP. In June, DiPiero led Team USA to victory in Portugal at the European Senior Basketball Association Championships where he was named MVP for a fourth time. Most recently, he competed in the National Senior Games in Pittsburgh in July, joined by Franciscan’s track and field assistant coaches Paul Rue and Jack Thornton Jr. ’70, and came away with yet another victory and the MVP award.

Married to Theresa (Rocco ’72) MSA ’01 with four children, DiPiero describes his 1985 move to Steubenville as a chance to rediscover the Catholic faith he had stepped away from.

“It launched me into a relationship with Jesus,” he says. “I began to focus on my spiritual life and make it a priority, like I had been focusing on basketball.”

DiPiero calls his coaching jobs at Franciscan “the best jobs in America.” He strives to instill in his players the wisdom he discovered after coming to Steubenville. Praying with the women’s golf team after every practice, he encourages them to be at peace, not to be too hard on themselves, and never to forget God’s unconditional love.


New Athletics Director

Franciscan University is excited to welcome Daniel (“Danny”) Andersen ’97. He started part-time this fall and will return to his alma mater full-time as the new director of Athletics in January. Don’t miss Franciscan Magazine’s exclusive interview with Andersen in the next issue.


High Fives

  • Eleven teams earned National Academic Recognition by their respective Coaches Associations.
  • Franciscan Athletics welcomed four new head coaches over the summer: Sean Cleary (women’s volleyball), Tom Costello (women’s tennis), Daniella Pillar ’13 (softball), and Iliana Spoelman ’16 (women’s basketball).
  • Claire Walters qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field National Championship in Rochester in May and placed 19th in the 1500m run.
  • Baron baseball player Brendan Burke and women’s tennis player Haley Davinsizer were recognized as PAC Scholar Athletes of the Year in May.


Student-Athlete Spotlight

jazzlyn melnyk

Name: Jazzlyn “Jazzy” Melnyk

Hometown: Weirton, WV

Major: Business Management

Sports: Women’s Basketball

Team Position: Guard

Honors: Team Captain; 2023 PAC Academic Honor Roll; 2022-23 PAC Sportsmanship Team; 2022-23 College Sports Communications Academic All-District; 2022 PAC Academic Honor Roll

On Sports:“Being local brings an additional level of pride to being a Baron. At Franciscan, I get to play the game I love but most importantly, Franciscan gives me the opportunity to grow in faith and strengthens my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Career Goal: A management career

Favorite Saints: St. Michael the Archangel

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