BUTLER TWP — Volleyball always has been a big part of Dan Mountain’s life.
He excelled at the sport as a player for the North Allegheny boys volleyball team and then was a star in the club volleyball scene at Penn State University.
Once his playing days were over, the next logical step for Mountain was to dive into coaching.
“Teaching is always a job I wanted to do,” Mountain said. “And coaching right along with it.”
Mountain has been living that dream for the past six years.
He led the Mars girls volleyball program to the best season in its history this fall with a 19-4 record, a WPIAL Class AA championship and a trip to the PIAA semifinals.
For the past three years, Mountain also has coached the boys volleyball team at Seneca Valley.
In December, though, Mountain had to make perhaps the most difficult decision of his life: give up both the Mars and Seneca Valley volleyball coaching jobs for a chance to take the reins of the Butler girls program.
Mountain, who recently turned 33, is a seventh grade history teacher in the Butler school district.
So, he picked the Golden Tornado.
“Leaving Mars was really, really hard,” Mountain said. “Mars has been one of the most successful athletic programs in all of Western Pennsylvania. Leaving Seneca Valley was difficult, too.”
The Butler job, though, was too good of a fit to pass up.
Mountain and his wife, Meg, are expecting their third child in March. The couple already has a 4-year-old girl, Eva, and a 1-year-old girl, Nora.
Time was going to be an issue and Mountain didn’t want to split his time between two coaching jobs.
“It’s going to be nice to be able to focus on one place, teaching and coaching,” Mountain said. “I can put all my focus on Butler.”
The Golden Tornado are coming off a 7-7 season in a difficult WPIAL section that features perennial powers North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Oakland Catholic and Seneca Valley.
The task for Mountain will be to get Butler over that formidable hump.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Mountain said. “It’s something new for me and something new for the players. They are good players. They have been competitive in one of the toughest leagues in the state for years.”
It didn’t take long for Mountain to get the job.
He interviewed after Christmas and was approved by the school board a short time later.
“Honestly, based on Dan’s track record as a head coach, we couldn’t ask for a better candidate,” said Butler athletic director Bill Mylan. “With the success he’s had at Mars with the girls and the success he’s had with the boys program at Seneca, that alone would seal the deal.”
He takes over for Meghan Lucas, who spent 11 seasons as the Golden Tornado coach.
Mountain is ready to get started.
“We’re going to try to get the right mix of talented players and work hard,” Mountain said. “It’s going to be exciting to be a part of that.”
Eagle staff writer Jason Orfao contributed to this story.