Hall of Fame member named swim coach


Abigale May, Shaler Area’s new head swimming coach

The Shaler Area School District has hired Ms. Abigale May, a middle school teacher and a member of the Shaler Area Athletic Hall of Fame, as the new head coach of the varsity swim team.

May, who earned 12 varsity letters as a Shaler Area athlete, replaces long-time coach Keith Simmons.

“Ms. May brings a tremendous background to the job,” Clint Rauscher, Shaler Area athletic director, said. “She has held head coaching positions before, once at Hampton and most recently the girls head track coach at Shaler Area. She also has great networking within the different school district communities as a teacher and Kiwanis pool manager.”

May was Hampton High School’s head varsity swimming coach for both the boys and girls team from 2010-2012. After resigning from the position to take a teaching job in Tennessee, she was able to coach the Fox Chapel Golf Club’s summer swim team from 2012-2019.

May was a four-year swimmer for Shaler Area’s high school team, where she became a four-time WPIAL qualifier in the 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay. She additionally was a three-time WPIAL medalist and a three-time PIAA qualifier in the 100-yard butterfly, where she placed in the top 20. She was named the MVP of the swim team in 2005 and 2006.

I believe in the talent that this team has and hope to build upon it…My ultimate goal is to help all the swimmers and divers reach their own personal goals.

— Abi May

May then swam in college at St. Francis University after initially competing there on a Division I cross country and track and field scholarship. May went back to swimming during her junior year of college and was placed on scholarship after proving her ability in the first half of the season.

She was inducted into the Shaler Area Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019 and hopes to incorporate things she learned as an athlete and as a coach in her new role.

“I plan to continue to work on forming a team relationship both in and out of the pool,” Ms. May said. “I believe in working on technique and yardage to ensure that our team is as successful as it can be. I plan to continue with the training regimen that was implemented as far back as when I was a high school swimmer, but also to implement some new practice and coaching strategies.”

May also emphasized on how important it is to start recruiting new members to join the team, as well as continue to build the elementary school and middle school teams.

“I plan to try and recruit more swimmers and divers to build up our team — I feel that numbers help any team in winning, and I also feel that there are some swimmers out there who have second guessed joining the team before,” said May. “I hope to be able to recruit new and former swimmers so that they have the ability to compete for the team. Having a strong middle school and elementary school club team is also beneficial as that is the feeder program to the varsity team.”

Ms. May participating in the 2019 Hall of Fame ceremonies.

She takes over for Simmons, who coached May from the time she was in elementary school to when she swam in high school. Simmons started as an assistant coach on the varsity team when she was in her freshman year and became the head coach when she was a junior.

“He was a great coach and it’s nice to follow in his footsteps after he’s built a program from the club level through high school,” May said.

As is the case with so many things right now with the ongoing pandemic, it is unclear how the season will unfold and if WPIAL Championships will still be able to happen, but May will deal with whatever unfolds.

“Everything seems to be changing day by day, but my hope is that the WPIAL Championships can still take place,” said May. “There is a possibility of dual meets being cancelled or postponed, but I am ready to deal with any situation that is thrown our way.”

No matter what happens, May is excited about the opportunity she has been given.

“Getting back into coaching high school swimming has always been a desire of mine,” May said. “I believe in the talent that this team has and hope to build upon it…My ultimate goal is to help all the swimmers and divers reach their own personal goals.”