Cathy Stanilka, Coach
Cathy Stanilka is among the top five all-time winningest girls volleyball coaches in New York State and is also among the top 20 all-time winningest softball coaches. She became an accomplished two-sport coach all while teaching physical education for 35 years, six of which were also spent as the athletic director at Lake George High School in Section 2. Cathy retired in 2010 after 35 years but coached for six more seasons beyond retirement. In her illustrious 40-year volleyball coaching career, she compiled a 673-182 overall record, won one NYSPHSAAA State Championship (2001), made 12 NYSPHSAA State Final Four’s, captured 26 league titles, and won 19 Section 2 Championships which included a run of 15 straight. Stanilka earned NFHS Coach of the Year plaudits and NFHS Northeast Section Coach of the Year honors both in 2016, the same year she was inducted into the NYS Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. On the softball field, she won 326 games, led her teams to a NYSPHSAA State title (1992) and multiple league and section crowns over a 26-year span. Her career in softball was capped off by an induction into the NYS Sportswriters & Coaches Organization for Girls Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Cathy additional served on NYSPHSAA’s Safety Committee, Volleyball and Softball Clinic Planning Committees, the Volleyball, Basketball and Softball State Committees, and was on the Section 2 Sportsmanship Committee.
“To be inducted into the Hall of Fame is truly an amazing honor and a respected sign for a lifetime achievement for which I am sincerely humbled, honored, and grateful for,” said Stanilka. “The people that are already members of the Hall of Fame are truly special and have made tremendous contributions to the athletic field. To be counted among them is an ‘out of body’ experience as there are so many others that should be included as well. Top of my list would be Gretchen Stark from Fort Ann, Cathy Allen- long time State Coordinator for Softball, Peggy Seese- long time volleyball coach & Asst Sport Coordinator for volleyball from Argyle, Patti Perone from Horseheads, and deceased longtime two-sport coach from Warrensburg- MaryAnn Bump. And of course, I’m extremely happy that my good friend Eileen Troy is joining me at this year’s induction!”
Stanilka’s involvement in sports has allowed her to come away with some great memories. “The amazing female athletes that I had the opportunity to work with along with the unending support of my husband, parents, many administrators, parents, friends, and colleagues that without their constant guidance, I would not have had any success. The opportunity to win two State Championships, one in softball and one in volleyball; is obviously a highlight. Even more importantly the way our teams both won and lost with class is of high importance,” said Stanilka.
During her coaching career her players were always productive members of their community. “The sportsmanship awards they won along the way and the multiple Scholar-Athlete Team Awards they won almost every year in both sports is a true measure of their character. The last four volleyball teams I had the pleasure of coaching raised over $25,000 for Breast Cancer Research with the Power of Pink campaign. Again signifying their willingness to give back to their community and society using their platform as an athlete,” said Stanilka.
One main reason Stanilka got involved in athletics was to provide an opportunity for female athletes. “I would say starting way back when I graduated from high school in the year of Title IX. Even before that when I wasn’t allowed to play on my brother’s little league baseball team even though I was just as good as they were. Having had such a lack of exposure to opportunities in sports I wanted to be able to provide other young female athletes with what I didn’t ever have. A schedule of games, a uniform, transportation to games, and most importantly a coach who cared about them. Watching the growth in young athletes and providing them with opportunities to face the challenges of life’s lessons and take with them the many wonderful memories that were created through their involvement with interscholastic sports.”
Cathy and her husband Edward of 35 years reside in Lake George. The Class of 2019 will be inducted into the NYSPHSAA Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 31st as part of the 96th annual Central Committee Meeting at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona.