Dalious had Tigers ahead of their time
A long time ago, but really not that long ago, Southern Columbia played for a state championship.
Not in football.
Not even in a boys sport. In 1977, the Tigers lost the field hockey title game 3-0 to Cedar Crest at Shippensburg University. Even in losing, it was quite an accomplishment. At that time, field hockey was not split into classes; Southern truly was the second-best team in the state.
The architect of that drive to a state title game, Southern coach Freda (Kline) Dalious, died last weekend at age 74. But that state championship game is only one line on what was a tremendous resume, one that touched the lives of hundreds of Southern girls over three-plus decades.
Freda Dalious wasn't just a very good field hockey coach. She was the builder of Southern Columbia's girls sports programs, period. She coached field hockey in the fall for 30 years. She coached softball in the spring for 30 years. Someone realized she had some free time on her hands, so she coached basketball in the winter for 29 years. She was also the district's girls health and physical education teacher.
Her teams won many district titles, particularly in field hockey, but don't get the idea she didn't know her way around the other two sports. Jim Doyle, sports director at
Bloomsburg's WHLM radio and a retired Southern English teacher and track coach, e-mailed her overall record in the three sports - 729 wins, 308 losses, 34 ties. That's a combined winning percentage of .703. Her basketball record was 303-160, with nine league titles and three district championships. And in field hockey, the Tigers were the Southern football of their time.
Dalious was ahead of the Title IX revolution by a decade, thanks to help from the foresight of former Southern athletic director Charles Nesbitt. He hired her at Southern in 1963. She had taught at Greenwood for three years but was anxious to start a girls athletic program there, and the powers that be were dragging their feet. So Nesbitt brought her to the new jointure of Catawissa, Ralpho Township and Roaring Creek Valleys schools.
It's hard to believe with the success Southern has had in male sports over the past three decades that, during the early part of Dalious' career, the school was known for its success in girls sports.
"It's funny. The only people who wore Southern jackets at that time were the girls," said former Southern football and softball coach Andy Ulicny, who replaced Dalious in the latter sport, "The guys wouldn't wear them; it was an embarrassment. The girls were the jocks and the guys weren't. It was a real flipping of roles from what you expect.
"She was really ahead of the curve. She was really strong with fundamentals and conditioning. I remember coaching football and seeing her field hockey girls just run and run, for the first half-hour of every practice. At that time, girls were treated a little differently. People didn't think they could do some things, but Freda knew that she could beat teams with conditioning and some fundamentals."
Ulicny said Dalious always had a way of making all of her players feel good about themselves.
"She was very good at making each girl better, and all of her girls really had pride and a winning attitude," he said.
Eventually, some of that rubbed off on the boys programs. A young crop of coaches, including Ulicny, Doyle, Jim Roth, Andy Mills, Al Cihocki and Al Lonoconus. among others, started learning tricks from her.
"When I started softball, she was right there and knew what all the opponents were going to do," Ulicny said. "And since she retired, she's been very supportive of all the sports. She was right there for every football game in her lawn chair at the bus barn. She was always at basketball and other games."
Dalious was elected to the Bernie Romanoski Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, and her 1977 team was later inducted as a group.
Dalious is survived by her husband of 35 years, Harold "Sam' Dalious, of Catawissa, a stepson, Keith; two brothers, a sister and numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
(Souders is a sports writer for The News-Item. His column appears on Fridays.)