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Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2021-04-07

Kelly Roberts Brenninger  

            During the spring of 1984, Kelly Roberts Brenninger got the call to

Kelly Roberts Brenninger

interview for a teaching job in the Upper Perkiomen School District while she was cutting her parents' grass in Schwenksville. Later the same day, she met with administrators, who made her an offer.

            Brenninger spent the next 35 years teaching at the middle school in the district. She also made her mark coaching the Indians lacrosse and field hockey teams.

            In 2006, the field hockey team reached the PIAA Class AA title game. "I never expected my tenure in the district to be so long," said Brenninger, who currently lives in Upper Hanover. "But I enjoyed it. It was fun."

            A 1979 graduate of Souderton Area High School, Brenninger delivered a standout athletic career at Millersville University while earning a degree in special education. She started all four seasons in field hockey and lacrosse, earning two defensive player honors twice on both teams. As a senior, she earned All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference honors.

            As a sophomore in 1982, Brenninger's versatility helped the Marauders lacrosse team win a national championship. Her shift from the field to play goalkeeper, due to injuries, allowed them to capture the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Division III Championship.

            In the title game, a 10-3 victory over Lynchburg at West Chester University, Brenninger registered 17 saves. She allowed just 5.7 points per game during the postseason and held opponents to fewer than 10 goals in 13 of 15 games.

            "The experience was eye opening," said Brenninger, who was inducted into Millersville's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 as an individual and again the following year as a member of the championship team. "I gained an appreciation for what goalkeepers go through. It's not an easy job. I got a lot of bruises."

            Brenninger took the job at Upper Perkiomen despite arranging previously to work as a long-term substitute in the Spring-Ford. However, she said administrators in Royersford recommended her to fill an opening in the neighboring district.

            Immediately after arriving at Upper Perkiomen, Brenninger commenced a 23-year coaching career. Initially, she served as a high school assistant on the field hockey and lacrosse teams. After serving as an assistant girls basketball coach for the 1996-97 season, Brenninger led the Indians lacrosse program from 1987 to 1994.

            However, she earned the most acclaim coaching the Tribe's field hockey team. Between 1989 and 2006, the team captured five Pioneer Athletic Conference titles, one district title and multiple state tournament appearances.

"The student athletes at Upper Perkiomen were so committed," said Brenninger, who accumulated a 217-118-30 career record with the help of her husband Barry, who scouted the opposition. "I was committed, too. I always made sure to look at game film so the players were prepared."

            Her best chance to win a state title game during her final season. The Indians captured the District 1 Class 2A title on route to the state title game. However, they lost 1-0 to Wyoming Seminary at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown. Three top players missed the contest with injuries and a fourth got hurt during the game.

            "We had all sorts of opportunities in the first half," Brenninger said. "But we couldn't score. There were seven seniors on that team, who from the time they were young, had the goal of winning a conference, district and state title. They nearly pulled it off."

 

Ernie Quatrani

            Ernie Quatrani described his hiring at Upper Perkiomen High School as a

Ernie Quatrani

"miracle of timing." The school needed both an English teacher and a baseball coach, and Quatrani had just earned his teacher certification.

            Still, he had some initial concerns about the potential length of the commute. On the hour-long drive to the interview, Quatrani pulled over between the Lansdale and Quakertown Interchanges on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to consider his decision.

"Do I really want to do this?" he asked rhetorically.

            He took the job and committed to the community. In 32 seasons leading the Tribe's baseball team, Quatrani accumulated a .563 winning percentage. Between 1979 and 2010, his teams won two District One titles, made 21 post-season appearances and captured Bux-Mont League championships in 1979 and 1983. He credited the success to the student athletes he led.

            "Any good coach will say the key to winning is having good players," said Quatrani, who lives in Upper Hanover. "We were always competitive."

            Before graduating from Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor in 1971, Quatrani knew he wanted to be a baseball coach. The Havertown native served as an assistant for the high school team from 1972 to 1974.

            While enrolled at Temple University with a Radio/Television/Film major, he worked as an assistant coach at St. Joseph's University from 1975 to 1978. Quatrani followed his high school coach, Barry Kirsch, to the Philadelphia school on City Line Avenue.

            After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Communications at Temple and a teaching certificate from St. Joe's, Quatrani hired an agency to help him discover leads for jobs. It located an opening in Upper Perkiomen, a district located in the northwest corner of Montgomery County and western Berks County.

            He met with administrators, including George Bonekemper, who was in charge of district personnel.  Quatrani described the high school's baseball field as a palace.

"Coaching on the Main Line, I was used to working on a field squeezed into the corner of playground," he said.

            During his first season coaching the Tribe in 1979, Quatrani rented a local room to avoid the long drive home. After six years of commuting, he moved his family into the school district. With his youngest son preparing to start school, day care under the previous circumstance would have been impossible.

            Over the years, Quatrani collected 383 victories. Modeled after the Boyertown's style – which relies on solid fundamentals, bunting and an aggressive approach on the bases – the Indians reached the district playoffs 21 times and qualified for the PIAA tournament in 1994 and 2006.

            In 2006, the Tribe gave Quatrani his only District One Class 3A title. Keith Ganther and Bret Umstead led the team to an 8-2 victory over Sun Valley at Ursinus College. Ganther, a left handed pitcher, allowed two runs and five hits over five innings. Umstead drove in three runs and scored on the back end of the double steal.

            Quatrani says helping players extend their careers outweighs the wins and losses. Several have played in college. Josh Tyler, a 1991 graduate, advanced to Triple A with the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Francisco Giants. Tim Mayza, a 2010 grad, currently pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays.

            "Players go as far as their talent will take them," Quatrani said. "The fact that Josh and Tim got as far as they did is a credit to them. The message I sent to them was no different than what I delivered to a thousand other kids."


 

 

 

 

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