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Seven new staff members join Juniata Athletics

(Posted August 12, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College athletic director Larry Bock has announced the hiring of seven new staff members in the Athletics department.

Joining the football staff will be Rich Yahner, Mike Hudy, Frank Blair, and Mike Newton. Nick Hager will join the men's basketball staff as an assistant coach, while Claudia McDowell will become Juniata's new assistant women's basketball coach. Shannon Pierce joins the Athletics department staff as its assistant sports information director.

Yahner joins the Eagle football staff after spending last season as the defensive coordinator at Lewistown Area High School in Lewistown, Pa. He previously served on Al Groh's staff at the University of Virginia from 2006 to 2008, working as an assistant secondary coach and quality control coach, and was part of the staff that helped the Cavaliers achieve a bid to the 2008 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl. He also had stints at Lehigh University (2000-02) and Clarion University (1999). Yahner received his Bachelor of Science degree in rehabilitation services from Penn State in 1999, and earned his master's of education in couselor education from Penn State in 2006. Yahner will coach the Juniata running backs and serve as the team's special teams coordinator.

Hudy joins the Juniata football staff from Huntingdon Area High School, where he was an assistant coach from 2003 to 2007. He previously served as as an assistant coach at Mount Union Area High School (1991-98) and Bald Eagle Area High School (1990), and assisted Juniata head strength and conditioning coach Doug Smith on a volunteer basis in 2008. A 1988 graduate of the University of Delaware, he will assist with Juniata's offensive line, coaching the tackles and tight ends.

Blair, a 1992 graduate of Saint Francis University, will coach the Juniata centers and guards this season. He previously served as an assistant football coach at Windber Area High School from 1999 to 2005, and was on the staff at Saint Francis from 1994 to 1998. A two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honoree and Champion USA Division III All-American for the Red Flash, Blair was the recipient of the Eugene and Rosemary Turano Award as Saint Francis' top senior male athlete in 1992.

A two-time football letterwinner at the University of South Carolina, Newton joins the Juniata staff as the secondary coach. He served as a defensive quality control graduate assistant coach at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., during the 2009 season. Newton is a 2009 graduate of South Carolina with a bachelor's degree in sport and entertainment management.

Hager rejoins the Juniata men's basketball program as an assistant coach, after serving as a three-year starter and four-year letterwinner for Juniata and head coach Greg Curley from 2003 to 2007. He was the assistant boys' basketball coach at Franklin Area High School in Franklin, Pa., during the 2009-10 season; he previously served as an NCAA compliance graduate assistant at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., from 2007 to 2009 while pursuing his master's degree in higher education administration and sports management. A 2007 Juniata graduate with a degree in business management, Hager finished his basketball career with 731 points (7.3 per game) and 325 rebounds (3.3 per game) while dishing out 226 assists. He logged 144 steals over his four years at Juniata, and currently ranks third among Juniata's career steals leaders.

After a year away from Juniata women's basketball, McDowell will make her coaching debut on the Eagle sidelines as an assistant to her former coach, Danny Young-Uhrich. McDowell wrapped up her playing career following the 2008-09 season with 968 points over her three seasons on College Hill, after transferring to Juniata from Hofstra University. She ranks third among Juniata career assist leaders with 323, and is fourth in career steals with 231. McDowell tallied 94 three-pointers over her three seasons at Juniata, good enough for seventh among Juniata's all-time leaders. A 2009 graduate of Juniata with a bachelor's degree in business administration and education, she was the 2009 recipient of Juniata's William R. Smaltz Award which is presented to the senior student-athlete who has exemplified hard work and perseverance in his or her endeavors.

Pierce returns to College Hill following a brief departure, after serving as an event operations and guest services intern with the Philadelphia Eagles during this past spring and summer. A four-year letterwinner on the Juniata women's soccer team, Pierce finished her four years in Blue and Gold tied for eighth among career goals leaders (12) and tied for 12th in career points. She earned Second team All-Landmark Conference honors in 2008, when she was second on the team in scoring with five goals and 11 points. She is a 2010 graduate of Juniata College with a bachelor's degree in communications and business studies.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.