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Wally’s World

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Wally Hausdorf had dreams of being a head men's college basketball coach. He even had cups of coffee as an assistant at Stony Brook and SUNY Old Westbury. Softball never entered his mind.

But in 1981, that all changed. Bryant softball coach John Demas, now the school's boys' basketball coach, injured himself coaching soccer. Hausdorf, who was already a teacher and coach at the Astoria school, was asked two weeks before the season if he could take on the role on an interim basis.

Twenty-seven years later, Hausdorf is still coaching softball at Bryant he's the winningest coach in New York State and the is 25th in the country in victories, as well. Earlier this season against Bronx Leadership, he earned the milestone of 600 wins. And he has every scorecard from every softball game he's coached in the closet of his Glen Oaks home to prove it.

Those thoughts of being the next Rick Pitino or Jim Calhoun or Mike Krzyzewski have long since passed. He's etched his own legacy on the city softball scene.

"Every year is great, every year is a new beginning," said Hausdorf, who runs student affairs at the school. "There are always things to work on."

Oddly enough, his first softball game at Bryant was a 23-0 loss to Cardozo. Since then, though, the Owls have qualified for the playoffs 25 times, won 12 division titles and made four appearances in the final four. Things haven't always been easy, especially lately. Hausdorf says that Astoria has never had any big-time little leagues, but the talent in the area isn't what it used to be. Girls just aren't beginning to play the sport at a young age any longer.

His formula for success has changed a bit. As the school's JV girls' volleyball and JV girls' basketball coaches, Hausdorf scouts out athletic girls and persuades them into joining the softball team. He's taken countless girls like that, who have never played before, and gotten them scholarships to college.

"He has belief in us," said senior Bernarda Pupovic, Bryant's ace pitcher. "He makes us into something that no one ever thought we could be."

Pupovic played softball before high school, but she credits Hausdorf with making her the player she is today. She's getting recruited by Old Westbury and Brooklyn College.

One of Hausdorf's former players, Ayette Cabrera, coached the Queens HS of Teaching softball team to the PSAL Class B city championship last season. She, like many girls who have passed through the halls of Bryant, credits Hausdorf as a mentor.

"It's an honor for me," Pupovic said, "to be playing for him."

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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