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Juniata Athletics announces staff additions

(Posted August 4, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College Athletics has rounded out its staff for 2011-12 with several new hires in a number of sports and support areas.

Joining the women's soccer staff as an assistant coach is Nikki McLellan Ayers, while Blair Taylor has been named an assistant coach in women's cross country and track and field. Joe Battaglia, John Haubrick, and Greg Gasparato have joined the Juniata football staff as assistant coaches. In the sports information office, Caley McCool has been named assistant sports information director. Ronnie Shrift will be joining Juniata's strength and conditioning staff as an assistant coach.

Ayers joins the Juniata women's soccer staff after a four-year stint as head women's soccer coach and head swimming and diving coach at Knox College in Illinois from 2007 to 2010. She previously served as an assistant women's soccer coach at Grinnell College (Iowa) during the 2006 season, helping guide the Pioneers to a 15-3-0 overall record including a 9-0-0 mark in conference play.

A 2006 graduate of Juniata College, then-Nikki McLellan set program records in career goals (32), assists (25), and points (89), as well as single season records for goals (12, 2005), assists (11, 2003), and points (29, 2005). A four-time All-Commonwealth Conference honoree, she received Juniata's Charles Bargerstock Award in 2006 for greatest athletic achievements by a female student-athlete in the senior class.

Taylor resumes coaching and joins the Juniata staff from Mercy Health Systems in Darby, Pa., where she has been a rehabilitation assistant for the past two years. She previously served as a graduate assistant coach for cross country and track and field at McDaniel College, where she assisted with recruiting, practice planning, coordinating travel, and maintaining the Green Terror's performance lists.

A 2007 graduate of McDaniel with her bachelor's degree in exercise science and physical education, Taylor was a silver medalist in the 400m at the Centennial Conference outdoor track and field championship and ran a leg for the Green Terror's second-place 4x400m squad in 2007. She was also a member of the McDaniel record-holding squad in the 4x800m relay, and was McDaniel's most valuable performer in track and field in 2007.

Battaglia returns to College Hill for a second stint on the Juniata football staff, after previously serving as a defensive backs coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He rejoins the staff as the defensive coordinator.

Battaglia spent the 2010 season on the staff at Stevenson University, coaching the linebackers while helping start-up the Mustangs' football program that begins play this season. Prior to his first stint at Juniata, Battaglia served as an intern on the defensive staff at Guilford College (N.C.), working with the Quaker linebackers and assisting the defensive coordinator.

A 2008 graduate of Guilford with a degree in sports management, Battaglia was a four-year letterwinner as a linebacker and defensive back for the Quakers.

A former Juniata football team captain, Haubrick returns to the sidelines this fall as a defensive line coach for the Eagles.

Haubrick was a three-year letterwinner at defensive end for Juniata from 1996 to 1998, earning football's George L. Weber '40 Award as the top lineman. He was also the recipient of Juniata's William R. Smaltz Award in 1999, which goes to a student-athlete in senior class who has demonstrated hard work and perseverance in their athletic endeavors.

Haubrick comes to Juniata from Lewistown Area High School, where he coached on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football from 2000 to 2008. He began his coaching career as a defensive line coach at Altoona Area High School in 1999. Haubrick currently teaches math at Mifflin County High School in Lewistown.

A 1999 graduate of Juniata College with a degree in mathematics and secondary education, Haubrick received his master's of education in educational leadership from Penn State in 2007. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Gasparato joins the Juniata football staff in 2011, after spending the 2010 season at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, S.C. He will coach the Eagle defensive backs.

Gasparato served as the safeties coach and special teams coordinator at Richland Northeast, with responsibility for developing all drills and schemes for special teams development. The Cavaliers went 7-5 in 2010, advancing to the South Carolina Class 4A Division II playoffs. While coaching at Richland Northeast, Gasparato also interned on the Univ. of South Carolina's strength and conditioning staff.

Gasparato was a three-year letterwinner at defensive back for Wofford College, and was a member of the Terriers' 2007 Southern Conference championship squad. He graduated from Wofford in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance.

Gasparato comes from a family rooted in college football coaching. His father, Nick, was the offensive line coach for Penn State's 1986 national championship team. Greg's brother, Mike, was a former Nittany Lion running back and 2004 graduate of Penn State and recently completed a graduate assistantship on the football staff at the University of South Carolina.

McCool continues her work in the Juniata Sports Information Office, where she worked as a student-assistant during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years. Among her projects within Juniata Sports Information she produced all the video content for Juniata's 2011 Athletic Awards Night, including the annual year-in-review video.

McCool also interned with Swanson Communications in Washington, D.C., during the Fall 2010 semester, where she worked on client accounts Caron Butler of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, the Washington Freedom of Women's Professional Soccer, and the 2010 Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman.

A 2011 graduate of Juniata College, magna cum laude, McCool was a three-time All-Landmark Conference second baseman for the Juniata softball team, and was twice named a Capital One Academic All-District selection as voted by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The Spring Mills, Pa., native and Penns Valley High School graduate finished her career ranked fourth among Juniata leaders in both career hits (138) and RBI (60).

Shrift rejoins the Juniata strength and conditioning staff after serving as a strength and conditioning intern this past summer at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. He previously served as an intern to Juniata strength and conditioning coach Doug Smith during the Spring 2011 semester, working with several men's and women's teams on a variety of performance training programs.

A four-year letterwinner with the Juniata football team out of Bishop Guilfoyle High School in Altoona, Pa., Shrift is a 2011 graduate of Juniata with a degree in business management. Over his four years as a tight end with the Eagles, Shrift logged 35 receptions for 428 yards as a tight end with three touchdown catches.

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