It was a bittersweet evening on Friday, Jan. 26, when the Hagerstown Lady Tigers hosted Union City in their final regular-season game.  At the conclusion of the contest, it was announced that Lady Tigers head coach Chris Oliger has resigned effective at the end of the current season.

The current Hagerstown team will enter its sectional game on Jan. 30 against Union County with a record of 0-20, but Oliger has had plenty of success during his tenure.

Oliger is the winningest basketball coach in Hagerstown school history, boys or girls.

Hagerstown coach Chris Oliger and Union City coach Sarah Black share a laugh before their Jan. 26 game. Photo by Sherry Stuart

In 22 seasons Oliger compiled a record of 270-213, won two sectional championships, and coached two Indiana Junior All-Stars and three 1,000 points scorers. Two of his teams won more than 20 games. His 2011-12 team finished 21-3 and were consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the state polls.

His 2014-15 team was 21-5 and won the sectional.

Oliger’s teams, known for their tenacious defense, also won the Tri-Eastern Conference title four times and won the Wayne County tournament championship seven times. Ten of his teams won 15 or more games.

Oliger has been credited with 270 wins, but he does not think that is fair. His contention is that he should take all the losses and the girls should get credit for the wins. Using that formula, his girls won 270 wins over the last 22 years and Oliger went 0-213.   

An amazing number of former players showed up for the game Friday in a heartwarming tribute to their former coach.

Oliger was presented a plaque after the game. Union City head coach Sarah Black and her players stayed on the floor to watch the presentation. She has high praise for Oliger.

“I have coached against Coach Oliger for 13 seasons,” Black said. “I have always admired him. I am glad that I could be here to see him honored.”

Oliger was nearly speechless. “It is more than I can say in words to see all my former players come back tonight to support us,” Oliger said. “It was overwhelming. I always felt my job was more to teach life skills than basketball skills and to see so many success stories from former players makes it all worthwhile. Playing basketball teaches you how to be a leader with courage, how to be respectful and how to contribute to the success of a team. The legacy all my teams leave, including the team this season, will always be a source of pride for me.”  

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A version of this article appeared in the January 31 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.