Archive for the ‘Girls’ Basketball’ Category

Delone Catholic High School standout Maddie Comly recently signed her letter of intent to play NCAA Division I college basketball at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J.

The signing took place Monday.

Comly also received offers from Mount St. Mary’s, American University, Hartford, St. Francis (Pa.) and Binghamton.

The 5-foot, 7-inch Comly averaged 18.4 points per game last season for the Squirettes. She has already scored more than 1,000 career points.



Darrell Wildasin yells instructions to the West York girls’ basketball team during practice on Monday. Wildasin, who has 227 victories coaching three

Darrell Wildasin yells instructions to the West York girls’ basketball team during practice on Monday. Wildasin, who has 227 victories coaching three different boys’ teams, is starting his first season as a high school girls’ coach. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —
Former York Suburban head coach Tom Triggs talks with West York boys’ head coach Bill Ackerman during practice on Monday. Triggs is a new assistant

Former York Suburban head coach Tom Triggs talks with West York boys’ head coach Bill Ackerman during practice on Monday. Triggs is a new assistant coach for the Bulldogs. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —

During his basketball playing days at Spring Grove, Darrell Wildasin earned a reputation as a scorer.

Wildasin pumped in 1,075 points in his career, which closed more than a decade before the 3-point shot became part of the high school game.

After he got into coaching, Wildasin developed a fondness for another facet of the game.

“I get a lot more enjoyment out of coaching defense,” Wildasin said on Monday evening, before his first practice ever with the West York girls’ team. “I remember one year at Spring Grove, we played a match-up zone (1-1-3), and another year, we played a diamond and one all year. I prefer man to man, but you have to adapt to your players and do what best suits their talent.”

West York is Wildasin’s fourth coaching stop, but this is the first time that he’ll be coaching a girls’ team.

He compiled a 227-160 won-loss record while directing boys’ teams at Spring Grove, Delone Catholic and Susquehannock.

“I’ll coach the girls just like the guys,” Wildasin said. “I’ll demand the same type of things that I demand from the guys. Mainly, that they go out and try their very best every time.”

Wildasin is making his debut in the high school girls’ game, but it won’t be the first time that he coached a girls’ basketball team.

“I spent the last couple of years coaching an AAU girls’ team. I wouldn’t have tried this if I hadn’t dabbled in it (coaching girls’ basketball),” he said.

The opportunity became available after Jon Shultz stepped down following a highly successful run, during which the Bulldogs won a York-Adams Tournament title and made runs in the District 3 and state tournaments.

“I gave it (applying for the job), some thought,” Wildasin said. “I had some parents call me. The Delone boys’ job opened up also, but I’ve been watching girls play the last two years and I wanted to give coaching high school girls a try. I guess you could say it was on my bucket list.”

Wildasin expected 22 or 23 players for his first practice.

“”I knew we had some good players here. I saw them play a few times,” he said.”

The Bulldogs will be a veteran team (there was just one senior on last year’s roster). The returning players include last year’s three leading scorers: Kari Lankford (14.2), Emily Wood (9.9) and Sela Fuhrman (7.3).

“We’ll play man on defense, and we’ll do some zone pressing,” Wildasin said. “I feel we can be pretty aggressive and trap.”

Wildasin, a partner in a plumbing, heating and cooling business, credits former Spring Grove boys’ coach John Dickert for helping him get into coaching.

“I’m not a teacher, and there weren’t a lot of people coaching who weren’t teachers when I started,” he said. “I enjoy putting a team together and watching them improve from day one, not just in games, but in practice, too.”

Triggs: While Wildasin takes over the West York girls’ team, former York Suburban boys’ head coach Tom Triggs is now an assistant coach with the Bulldogs’ boys’ team.

“Bill (West York boys’ coach Bill Ackerman) and I have been friends since I’ve been involved in coaching, and I have a lot of respect for him and his style of play,” Triggs said following the boys’ practice on Monday afternoon. “I was out (of coaching) two full years, and as I said when I got out, I didn’t want to be a head coach. When the opportunity arose here with Blll, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get back in.”

Ackerman turned a lot of the defense over to Triggs.

“When Triggs stepped down at Suburban, I said to him, ‘you can’t possibly be done coaching, so when you’re ready call me,’” Ackerman said. “I don’t think it always works when you have two head coaches on the same bench, but I think Triggs and I have a really good relationship. I’ve already learned a lot from him.”

Ackerman and Triggs have 536 career victories between them. Ackerman, West York’s all-time winningest coach, is 318-115, and Triggs is 218-121. Ackerman’s teams have won three York-Adams Tournament titles and one District 3 title in 2007. Triggs’ 2008-09 team captured a District 3 crown.

West York lost three starters from last year’s team, but it does return Darin McCauley and Josh Bailey, who averaged 9.8 and 8.0 points per game, respectively.

— Reach Dick VanOlinda at


SPRING GROVE — Victoria Ross had to wait until Wednesday to make her decision to attend Limestone College next fall official.

The reality is, however, that decision actually didn’t take all that long to make in the first place.

She knew that Limestone was where she wanted to be almost from the moment she stepped on the campus in Gaffney, S.C. this summer.

“I can’t wait,” she said shortly after her letter-of-intent signing in the career center at Spring Grove High School.

While Ross, a three-time York-Adams League girls’ golf champion, was busy looking into other schools for the better part of a year, it was actually Limestone and its women’s golf coach, Zack Seifert, who found her.



“Coach (Seifert) emailed me about Limestone and I went to check it out,” Ross said. “And I really liked it. I felt like I had a really good connection with him while I was down there.”

After Seifert made her an official offer in early September, it didn’t take long for Ross to accept.

“He offered me a scholarship and I knew that I couldn’t pass that up,” she said. “I just knew (Limestone) was the one.”

The Saints recently concluded their fall season ranked No. 19 in NCAA Division II, so Ross knows she’ll be joining a well-decorated program. Like all other Division II golf programs, Limestone has both a fall and a spring season, so Ross will get plenty of chances to shine, while also being pushed by some of her female teammates, something she never was able to experience as the lone girl golfer at Spring Grove.

“I like playing with the guys, but it’s going to be different to have a whole girls’ team,” Ross said.

She’s also fortunate in that she won’t be the only District 3 golfer attending Limestone. Central Dauphin’s Ali Cooper, the girl who claimed the District 3-AAA crown in October after battling with Ross over five playoff holes, is also a Limestone recruit.

Despite falling to Cooper in that playoff, Ross holds no ill will toward her soon-to-be teammate.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I’m hoping that I can room with her,” said Ross, who is still undecided about her major. “She lives in Central Dauphin, so it’s really close for us.”

Besides playing with Cooper, Ross is looking forward to learning a lot about golf from Seifert.

“He had the video of my swing from the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) website and he told me, ‘I bet your misses are a fade or a draw,’” she said. “And everything he said was like dead on. My strengths and weaknesses … he knew it. The stuff he was saying just really blew my mind.”

Other signings: Ross was far from the only local athlete to sign a letter of intent on Wednesday. Following are some of the other area signings:

At West York, Brett Kinneman signed on to play baseball at NCAA Division I North Carolina State, Kari Lankford will play basketball at Shepherd and Kelsey Weaver will play softball at Wheeling Jesuit.

At York Catholic, Shannon Moore is headed Kennesaw State to play lacrosse, Hannah Laslo is going to Seton Hill to play basketball and Marissa Ressler will attend Mansfield to play basketball.

At Eastern York, Lauren Reichard will play NCAA Division I volleyball at Georgia Southern, while Conrad Rhein will attend Lynn University and play lacrosse.

At York Suburban, Maura Brehl will play volleyball at Pitt-Johnstown and Ali Plonk will play field hockey at York College.

Finally, Gettysburg’s Maggie Fees will play field hockey at West Chester.

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at



There’s little question that Darrell Wildasin is one of the most successful high school boys’ basketball coaches in the York-Adams area.

With nearly 300 career victories at Spring Grove, Susquehannock and Delone Catholic under his belt, a Wildasin-coached team is successful more often than not.

If you would have asked him 10 or 15 years ago if he would have any interest in coaching a girls’ squad, the answer would have been an emphatic “no.”

The veteran coach has clearly softened his stance over the past few of years. In fact, it was just over a year ago that he started to coach AAU basketball for the York Thunder, a girls’ team that featured Delone Catholic standout Maddie Comly.

And he’s back at it again this summer, doing what he loves — coaching. And soon enough, Wildasin will get the chance to again coach a high school team. Only this time it will be a girls’ program. He’s been hired to take over the reins from Jon Shultz as the head coach at West York High School.

We caught up with Wildasin for this edition of Sports Q&A:

Q: How did you find out about the West York position?

A: “When I heard that it was open, I was intrigued. But I still wasn’t quite sure if it’s what I wanted to do or not. I got a couple calls from some parents that encouraged me to apply and it’s always nice when you know somebody. I’ve been different places, but I’ve never coached at West York. And, yeah, I know people in there but not like that would make me feel real, real comfortable to just jump right on it. Once I got those phone calls, I was encouraged by it and went for it.”

Q: What was the timeline like for the whole process?

A: “The process went pretty quick. I applied online and then a couple days later I emailed to ask what the timeline was and just like that they told me when the interview was. I don’t know if I was late in applying or what, but it kind of happened pretty quick from that point.”

Q: When were you informed you were the one?

A: “I was informed (informally) a couple weeks ago, but I wasn’t recommended to the board and accepted until (Tuesday). And that’s how it usually goes. You get recommended and then you wait, shake some hands and kiss babies for a while, but you have to wait for the process to play out.”

Q: How do you feel about the opportunity to coach a girls’ team this fall?

A: “I’m as enthusiastic now as I was 30 years ago when I started coaching. I love challenges as much as the next guy and I’m excited about it.”

Q: What have been your initial thoughts about the status of the program?

A: “With coaching AAU basketball the past couple of years, I have been around to watch just about every girl in the county play. But I was recruiting girls to play, so I had seen them play a couple times last year, so I’m familiar with the talent level that they have. I know that I have the talent with this group right here that I can compete for a county championship. And that’s not to say that we’re going to win it, I’m just saying that we have a chance to compete for it. And if I can make the right decisions and do some of the things that need to be done and if (the girls) grasp some of the things that we’re going to be doing, then I think we’ll have as good a chance as anybody.”

Q: Do you feel any pressure in regards to the high expectations surrounding the club heading into next season?

A: “I’ve been in district championship games, I’ve been to the second round of states. So nobody is going to put any pressure on me that I won’t already put on myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to figure out what needs to be done.”

Q: I know you’re mainly known as a boys’ basketball coach, but I see you’ve had some experience with girls’ AAU teams. How long have you been doing that?

A: “Just last year. I had last year’s team and I have another team this year and, to be honest with you, last year I just had a team that was extremely talented and extremely high-level. We were like 35-11 and I had a great group of girls and my wife kept telling me that I’ll never get a group of girls like this. And I have a couple of the girls back, like Maddie Comly from Delone. And she’s back and she told me, ‘Coach, I want to do it again. I don’t want to go anywhere else, I want to play for you.’ So I said, ‘Gosh, Maddie, I’m going to have to do a lot of recruiting.’ So I went to work and recruited a team and, we’re not as talented, but boy are we fun to watch. We share the ball and play together. We’re like 18-5. We don’t play at quite the level we played at last year, but we play at a good level. They play the way I’ve taught them to play.”

Q: Did you ever think you’d be coaching a girls’ basketball team instead of the boys?

A: “Well, after (coaching the girls) last year, I kind of got hooked. Now the Delone boys’ job opened up and there were people that wanted me to apply for it. And I thought about it, but my heart just wasn’t in it to go back to the boys. I never thought in a million years that I would coach girls. If you asked me 10-15 years ago I would have said there’s no way. But, I don’t know. There’s just something about it.”

Q: What are the biggest differences between coaching boys and girls?

A: “You have to work hard, and that’s the same for boys and girls, but you have to have fun too. And girls are little different than guys in that regard. I think you have to lighten up a little bit and encourage and go through all that stuff and it’s the same, but you have to have a few lighter moments here and there. You have to laugh with your kids. You coach them up, but you have to have some fun and you have to make it fun. So you can’t be screaming and hollering. They’re going to make mistakes, because everybody makes mistakes. But if the effort is there, you just move on.”

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to the girls yet and, if so, what was discussed?

A: “Oh, yeah. They’ve been playing summer league games since I found out and I’ve talked to them. I just talk to them about things that they did and they have a lot of questions. Obviously they know that this could be a special year so I would tell them things that I wanted to try to do and implement and things like that. So it’s been kind of nice.”

Q: Generally speaking, what differences will we see from a Darrell Wildasin-coached West York team vs. what we’ve seen under Jon Shultz?

A: “I’ll be honest. I don’t know a whole lot about Coach Shultz. I saw his team play once or twice last year, but I was not focused on what he was doing. So I don’t know his style, but from what I can gather I know he did a lot of 1-2-2 zone back into man. I think that maybe his man-to-man wasn’t as aggressive as mine will be, but I see a lot of the things that the girls are doing and they’re running Coach Shultz’s stuff right now. So I’m looking and trying to learn and I’ve seen a couple of things that I like that they do and we might continue to keep doing some of that. But the philosophy of how to defend in the man-to-man will be different. My style is probably a little more assertive, a little more aggressive. And the other thing that I noticed is that they basically played six kids last year and I like to play a lot more than that. I’ll play like eight to 10 kids. And another thing I’ve seen is that there is a lot more talent than just those five returning starters and I will utilize that.”

Q: What are your expectations for the squad come this winter?

A: “Well I know that we have some kids coming up from the JV team that can score the basketball, in addition to what we already have at the varsity level. I think that if you put it all together you’re going to have a lot more balanced scoring. And not that those two — Kari Lankford and Emily Wood — aren’t going to lead us in scoring, and they will, but we have to have other people to step up and, when we swing it and they’re open, they have to be able to knock it down. And they will.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at

York Dispatch Staff Report


The girls’ winners of the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Awards were announced recently at the Susquehannock High School Senior Awards Banquet.

The winner of the $7,500 scholarship was Makenzie Fancher, while Abbey Barnhart received the $2,500 scholarship.

At the conclusion of this year’s basketball season, the Susquehannock girls’ and the Bermudian Springs boys’ basketball programs were awarded the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Sportsmanship Awards in a vote of the York Chapter of the PIAA Basketball Officials.

This is the first year the members of the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Fund’s Board of Directors awarded two $7,500 scholarships – to a senior from each winning program – and two new $2,500 scholarships – to another deserving senior from each program. Applicants could be players, team managers or cheerleaders, but they had to be seniors.



The two Bermudian Springs scholarship winners were Neil Murren ($7,500) and Zachary D. Sanni ($2,500). Their awards were announced previously.

Fancher plans to attend Christopher Newport, where she also expects to participate in the basketball program, while Barnhart, the valedictorian of her class, will attend Lebanon Valley College, where she hopes to play volleyball.

Fancher lettered in basketball for four years and was captain for three years. She also lettered in track and field for three years.

Barnhart was a captain on both the basketball and volleyball teams.

Both Fancher and Barnhart are members of the National Honor Society and are involved in numerous community activities.

By RYAN VANDERSLOOT 505-5446/@ydsports

The days of playing competitive basketball usually ends for most college athletes when they graduate.

So at that point, those who still have a passion and love for the game often turn to coaching to fuel their competitive juices.

You can fit former Red Lion High School standout Marley Klunk into that group.

After graduating from NCAA Division II Dominican College in suburban New York in 2012, Klunk realized she wasn’t done with basketball. She returned to the York area, where she has served as the seventh-and-eighth-grade coach in the girls’ program at York Catholic before taking over the freshman program last year.

Now she’s ready to move up the coaching ladder. It was announced Tuesday that she was hired for the head coaching position for the girls’ varsity team at Dover High School.

“I’m just really excited,” Klunk said. “I’m just really anxious to get this season started and to prove that I can keep the winning tradition at Dover going.”

Klunk takes over the reins from Troy Lokhaiser, who guided the Eagles to back-to-back PIAA state appearances the past two seasons. The Eagles won the York-Adams Division II title in each of the past two years, marking the first two division titles in program history.

Most of the group that helped build that success, including Alayah Hall, the all-time leading female scorer in program history, were seniors this past season. Nevertheless, Klunk sounded passionate about developing the next generation of Dover girls into a powerhouse.

“I would like to keep the winning tradition going,” she said. “The girls will be a little younger this year, but there’s nothing wrong with that. You can just teach the girls more skills and how to handle certain situations. I think I’ll be all right. Age is just a number. The better players will play.”

When asked about Klunk’s hiring, York Catholic head coach Kevin Bankos felt it was a perfect fit.

“I think she’s going to be very successful,” Bankos said. “I truly feel that she only knows how to coach one way and she only knows how to play one way and that’s 100 percent. She’s going to give it her all. I think Dover has hired themselves a very good candidate.”

The intensity and passion for the game is something that Bankos saw first-hand from Klunk both on the court back in high school as well as during games coaching. He feels strongly that those characteristics will make her a success.

“Her desire to want to be successful in herself transcends into the way she runs practice and the way she pushes in the games,” Bankos said. “And I watched her on the sidelines and she made really good adjustments for game situations.”

As for her coaching style, Klunk, who scored more than 1,000 points under Coach Don Dimoff, has been called a Dimoff clone by some of her fellow coaches.

“I got picked on a bit because I pressed full-court and we’d be up by 20 points and they called me a ‘mini-Dimmie,’” she said.

When asked about Klunk, Dimoff’s answer sounded a lot as if he were talking about himself.

“She’s a very strong-willed competitor,” Dimoff said. “And she didn’t like losing much.”

The Red Lion coach agreed that Dover is a great fit.

“I think it’s a great situation for her,” he said. “I think she’ll do well.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at




Many fans may believe that high school coaches do their jobs to win championships.

And while that may be true for some, the majority are in the profession to develop and teach.

So there may have been more than a few fans out there scratching their heads when the news came out that West York girls’ basketball coach Jon Shultz decided to step down.

The Bulldogs, who have won six division titles and a league crown during his nine-year tenure, figure to be one of the favorites to compete for some additional gold next season. Among the key players expected to return will be Kari Lankford, who led West York in scoring at 13.7 points per game as a junior last season.

Shultz, however, didn’t feel the same passion for coaching after his team’s season concluded in March. And if he’s not 100 percent committed to something, Shultz isn’t one to try and fake it.

So he decided to resign as the head coach after compiling a 168-80 record. He will remain as a health and physical education teacher in the district.

We recently caught up with Shultz to discuss the reasons behind his decision for this edition of Sports Q&A.

Q: When did you officially make this decision?

A: “I submitted my resignation (Thursday). I didn’t have a meeting with my girls until (Friday) before school.”

Q: What were your reasons for stepping down?

A: “Well my belief system is that if I don’t have the energy to give 110 percent to whatever I do, to stop doing it. And this just felt like it was time to spend more time with my family. I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old and it’s tough to miss some of those years with your kids.”

Q: How hard of a decision was it for you to make?

A: “Well, I know I’m going to miss it. I love the game of basketball. Am I away for good? I don’t know. We’ll see when my kids grow up if they want to play and get into it, I might get back into coaching at that point and time. But this is a point in my life where I feel it’s important to see my kids grow.”

Q: Did you think about this at all during the season?

A: “Typically, going into every spring is when I get most excited for basketball. It’s kind of brand new and you get to shake off the dust from last season and have the mentality of ‘let’s get after it.’ And this year I just didn’t have that 110 percent, let’s-get-after-it-type (feeling). Now I just had a major knee surgery in March and I’m still recovering from that and it’s about a 12-month to 18-month recovery from that. So I had a lot of time being out of school and work to just kind of think. I enjoyed spending time with my family and seeing my kids off to school and those type of things, so that ultimately led to this decision.”

Q: Will you still keep your teaching position after this?

A: “Absolutely. Absolutely. I love West York. It’s nothing that anyone did, it’s just that … I’m a Bulldog. I didn’t go to West York. I went to Berwick High School and I was a Bulldog then and I’m a Bulldog now.”

Q: How did the girls take to learning your decision, especially considering how highly regarded they will be entering next season?

A: “I think they can win a district championship next year. Some people will say ‘well, you got out at the right time,’ but there really isn’t ever a good time. You don’t coach to win championships. You coach to motivate kids to be great. So it’s not about me sticking around one more year to try to win a district championship. It’s just that I have to close that chapter in my life and focus a whole lot more on my family.”

Q: So how did they take it?

A: “Well Kari is actually down at an AAU tournament in the South, but I talked to Kari’s mom and when (Kari) comes back she’s going to want to talk and I’ll sit down and talk with her about my decision. But the girls took it hard, because they think that’s it’s them, but it’s not them. You have to make decisions and family always comes first.”

Q: Do you have any idea who would be interested in taking over the program?

A: “Well my assistant, Joe Hasson, is also stepping down with me. He’s been my right-hand man and we had a great partnership. My ninth-grade coach, which was Dave Lankford, who is Kari’s dad, he stepped down at the end of the year so he can spend time watching his daughters play. He’ll have one on JV and varsity (Kari). As far as our JV coach, Coach Getz, he plans on staying on. And the only other one on my staff is Denton Senft, and he’s going to move on to take over the ninth-grade program.”

Q: Looking back over your nine years at West York, what is your fondest memory?

A: “I don’t know if I have a specific one, but I’ll say it’s practices. I enjoyed practices more. It’s just that bonding that goes on there. I always tried to bring in a family atmosphere to our team. We had a mutual respect there where, yeah, you might have had a battle at practice, but at the end of the day you respect each other, much like a family would.”

Q: Besides the success you’ve had as head coach, how much pride do you take in the fact that most of your girls have moved on to higher level education and, in some cases, continued playing basketball?

A: “I’ve told our girls that want to go to school that (facilitating that) has always been my objective, along with helping to get some of these girls’ education paid for. I know that I tell the girls that (basketball) is more than likely not going to be your career, but sports helps you get a sense of it — with the hard work and those types of things — so you can take that into your job and use it as an advantage.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at





Troy Lokhaiser talks to his Dover girls’ basketball team during a timeout. Lokhaiser has decided to step down as the Eagles’ head coach after

Troy Lokhaiser talks to his Dover girls’ basketball team during a timeout. Lokhaiser has decided to step down as the Eagles’ head coach after three highly successful seasons. (YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO)

Anyone who has recently coached a high school basketball team can tell you it’s not an easy job.

The days of only worrying about coaching during the season and preseason are long gone. If you want to do the job right, it has basically become a full-time job.

And when that coach isn’t also a teacher, the job becomes even tougher.

Such was the case for Dover girls’ basketball coach Troy Lokhaiser. After taking over the program from Mike Sanders three years ago, Lokhaiser took the program to new heights.

Two York-Adams League Division II titles, a York-Adams League Tournament title and two lengthy runs into the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs were all uncharted territory for what was a downtrodden program for many years.

But balancing everything that goes into coaching, along with his job as a director for the Pennsylvania State Police, as well as finding enough time for his family — his wife, Denise, and two daughters (Megan and Jenna) — proved to be too tall a task. As a result Lokhaiser, who compiled a 71-15 record as head coach, recently stepped down at Dover.

We caught up with Lokhaiser to talk about his decision for this edition of Sports Q&A.

Q: When did you start thinking about the decision to step down?

A: “I think I first started giving this some thought at the beginning of this season. It certainly took some thought on my part and I had to discuss it with my family. But it was at the beginning of the season.”

Q: What factors ultimately went into your decision?

A: “It was certainly a combination of things. I think most coaches would tell you that the amount of time that it takes to be a varsity coach these days is a large, large commitment. It’s not just a season job anymore, it’s a year-round position if you want to do it correctly. My work schedule and my family schedule and some other things just ultimately led me to think that now is the right time to step down.”

Q: How difficult of a decision was it for you?

A: “Extremely. Like in any job when you’re working with young adults, you get attached to them. And this year I had eight seniors and I’ve been attached to them pretty closely. … So it was tough. It really was tough for me.”

Q: Was it any easier to do so knowing that most of the team would be graduating this year?

A: “Yeah. It just seemed like the right time with this group. The success that we’ve had over the past two years was special and this group of seniors was kind of my group of girls for a long time. … Now just seemed like the best time.”

Q: Did the fact that your daughter, Megan, was one of those graduating seniors have any impact on your decision?

A: “That actually didn’t have too much to weigh into it. I’m sure that everybody thought that when Megan was done that would maybe be it for me. But it was more of the other outside things that I want to do. With Megan about to start college, and I have another daughter that’s in college, the other things that I haven’t been able to do with them was important. So it was more than just Megan being a senior.

Q: A lot of coaches (for example your assistant coach Jay Rexroth, who coached the Dallastown boys’ team for more than 20 years) step down but eventually get right back into it a few years later. Could you be one of them, even if not as a head coach?

A: “Well I don’t want to say never because it’s certainly a great job if you love to work with kids and see them grow and improve, then coaching is what you should be doing. I’m not going to say never, but I don’t foresee it right now. But … who knows?”

Q: How important were your assistant coaches — especially Coach Rexroth — to you over these past two years?

A: “I told them the other night at our team banquet, and I’m sure most coaches would say this, I certainly felt as if I had the best staff in the county and all over. But I’m sure most coaches would say the same thing about their staff. Jay Rexroth coming up to help us the past three years and to bring in a guy like Jay, who coached at Dallastown for 20 years, and the knowledge and experience that he brought to our staff was just unbelievable. And then Bill Fox and Bill Garrison have been with me during my whole time up there and they’ve done a great job. They may not have been as vocal as either Jay or I, but they certainly did stuff for us that maybe a lot of people don’t see.”

Q: You took over the program from Coach Sanders a few years ago. When that happened did you imagine you’d have as much success as you did?

A: “Well I’m not sure that any coach could tell you that they envisioned the type of success that we had these past three years. You always hope you have something like that and you hope that you can do some of the things like we’ve done, but I don’t think we envisioned it. I think we envisioned at the time we took over that we’re turning the corner at that point. Coach Sanders had brought in a new style of play to us and we kind of took that and molded it into our own thing these past couple of years. And it just seemed to work right. Those girls … the 10 that are, so to speak, my varsity girls this year and last year, just got it and they clicked together. They listened to what we tried to have them do and they did it on most nights.”

Q: It really seemed like you and your staff were able to get more out of the girls — aside from Alayah Hall — than maybe anyone would have predicted based solely on their individual talents. How do you think you were able to do that?

A: “We as a coaching staff look at our team and we kind of knew what we had on most nights. And we knew what the other team had on most nights. So when you step on the floor against a team like Cumberland Valley, Wilson, Mt. St. Joe’s, and even some of the strong York County teams that had two or three or four players that were going to be college basketball players … we weren’t sure we had them on most nights. Now we had Alayah Hall, who was certainly that X-factor for us, but we had what I would say is a bunch of girls that knew their role and went out every single night and did their role and competed. And that’s what made it so special. When you’re playing teams that you maybe shouldn’t match up well against and you still go out there and give the effort that our girls did, it made it more special. When you’re beating teams that most people don’t expect you to beat, it is certainly a good feeling.”

Q: Do have any idea who might be interested in taking over for you?

A: “I don’t know about my assistants. I know we had a team meeting and I told them of my decision, but I don’t know if any of them would be interested. So I’m not really sure.”

Q: What will be the memories of your time in coaching at Dover?

A: “Well the run that we’ve made the past two years for the program and for the school. The county championship will be special forever. The district finals game this year and the state games … competing against teams that we really felt that we might not be able to compete against, but this team certainly did night-in and night-out. The memories will be forever and I told the girls at the banquet to make sure that they stop in and look at the banners hanging in the gym because they earned them.”

Q: Finally, what do are your plans for your time away from coaching?

A: “First and foremost, to spend some more time with my family. Like I said, this is a year-round job and it’s especially crazy from November to March, if you’re fortunate enough to play into March. From those four or five months of the year, you see your family to maybe have a quick bite at a local restaurant for something to eat because you really don’t have the time to make anything at home. So certainly to spend more time with them. Now I used to be hunter and a fisherman and I played a lot of golf, so I’m hoping to get back into some of those things.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at



They are the unsung workers behind the scenes, putting in countless hours for very little pay, or no pay at all.

They don’t get quoted in game stories, a task instead left up to the head coach and a standout athlete or two from the game.

But they are there nonetheless. They are the assistant coaches. I’ll admit I’ve rarely chatted with any in my few years thus far covering prep sports. But from what head coaches tell me, their assistants are often the backbone of the team. They’re often seen as the ones off to the side at practices working with a group of athletes, or one-on-one teaching a certain technique. Or holding a clipboard on the sidelines tracking stats. And many other responsibilities.

Unfortunately for those in this group, the financial situations for many have gotten tighter in recent years because schools have made cutbacks to the budgets of athletic departments. That’s part of the trickle-down effect of budget cuts to school districts. And many of the slashes have come by taking away the small stipends paid to assistant coaches each season.

West York: The latest to fit in this category is at West York High School.

The West York school board last month approved cuts in order to reduce its $1.5 million deficit for next school year. On top of the district’s staff being reduced by 29, the board approved cutting five athletic teams: the ninth-grade football team, the middle-school cheerleading programs for football, basketball and wrestling and co-ed middle school cross country. In addition, the district is asking that one paid position be eliminated for athletic teams that have three or more coaches.

As a result, West York athletic director Roger Czerwinski said a total of 14 paid high school assistants will lose their stipends next year. And this is at a school district that already has one of the smallest athletic budgets in York County.

“Yes and more than likely what’s gonna end up happening is we’ll end up splitting stipends,” said Czerwinski, who is also the head coach of the two-time state champion Bulldogs’ baseball team.

The West York baseball team will go from three paid positions this year (varsity head coach, varsity assistant coach and junior varsity head coach) down to two paid positions next year (varsity head coach and junior varsity head coach), with the varsity assistant losing his stipend.

“My baseball coaching stipend I’ll just split it with our assistant coach. That’s what we’re doing,” Czerwinski said of finding a solution to the cutback.

Making up for losses: That’s been one of the growing trends across York County. I found this out two years ago when I did a huge project examining how budget cuts are impacting athletic departments. Of the 14 high schools included in the study, three reported a drop-off in the number of paid assistants in the 2010-11 school year, six schools had decreases in the amount of money spent on coaching salaries and two schools put a salary freeze in place for all coaches.

Many coaches who I chatted with then said they made up for the losses by putting an added emphasis on booster clubs and fundraising. But the common solution has been relying on volunteer coaches, which is likely what will happen at West York when paid assistants this year become volunteers next year. Either that or some paid coaches will split their stipend with those coaches losing pay.

Not in it for the money: Unless you’re a head football coach in the state of Texas, there likely isn’t much money involved in high school coaching. There certainly isn’t in York County. In the story I did a couple years back I found most coaches are paid anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, based on the importance of the position and tenure of the coach. But this is just a few thousand bucks a year for a position that can feel like a full-time job in-season and part-time job out of season.

“We truly honestly don’t do it for the money because if we did we’d be idiots because you don’t get paid that much,” said Bill Ackerman, who just completed his 16th season as head coach of the West York boys’ basketball team. “At the same time it’s hard to keep someone putting in 25 hours during the season and 15 hours a week during the offseason and say ‘By the way, I’m not paying you a dime and by the way your son isn’t in the program.’ It’s tough to find anyone to do that anymore.”

Like Czerwinski and many other head coaches I’ve chatted with in recent years, Ackerman has been fortunate to find assistants who willingly sacrifice their time for little to no monetary compensation. They don’t do it for the money. Or the adulation. They do it to help student-athletes, to teach them skills that might help them on the playing field or when they face obstacles later in life.

“I’m extremely lucky to have found guys where that (money) doesn’t matter to them,” Ackerman said. “As long as the kids see no difference (from the budget cuts) then it’s a win-win for everyone.”

— Reach John Walk at

By KEITH GROLLER(Allentown) Morning Call

HERSHEY — It wasn’t hard to find a member of the PIAA administrative staff Friday, the first day of basketball championship weekend at the Giant Center.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the PIAA, Executive Director Bob Lombardi and others were wearing tuxedos.

“Everyone is wearing them except Melissa [Mertz, the associate director], who looks a lot better than we do wearing a dress,” Lombardi said.

Considering the constant criticism the PIAA gets, you might think Lombardi and Co. would want to stay anonymous.

But they weren’t hiding Friday.

Considering that five of the eight teams that played Friday were private schools and four more played Saturday, the annual outcry for separate private and public school tournaments is again being heard as it has for several years.

However, those who continually gripe are wasting their breath. It’s not going to happen.

“Forty years ago, by an act of the legislature, they said there’s going to be one PIAA and they dissolved the PCIAA and all of the private schools joined us,” Lombardi said. “The legislature is not interested in making another change.

“You hear a lot of banter about New Jersey having separate tournaments. New Jersey is the only state we know of that has separate tournaments. New York, Maryland and Virginia are all public-only associations. They don’t have private schools. Some of our brother and sister states have tried some things, but they’ve ended up in court and lost a lot of money.

“They proved nothing, except that they made their membership mad.”

So forget the separate tournament concept.

But for those who think things are unbalanced, Lombardi did offer one caveat.

“We’re going to address charter schools,” he said. “We’ve been asked by the state’s oversight committee to address charter schools at an upcoming meeting. We think they are a problem. And the problem is that the public schools have to fund them. Public schools have to fund their own athletic program and then another athletic program and sometimes they have to compete against the same school they’re funding.”

Lombardi believes that charter schools should not be in the sports business.

“Those kids should be playing at their public school of residence, the same as the home-schoolers and it’s equal treatment,” Lombardi said. “I don’t know where it’s going to go. The legislature’s athletic oversight committee will have a hearing coming up and they’ve asked us to be a part of that. We welcome a seat at the table to have that discussion.”

Lombardi said he’s not going to be speaking just for himself.

“We’re going to say what our member schools are telling us,” he said. “I’m representing our membership and our board.”

There is only one charter school in York County that offers varsity athletics – New Hope Academy, which recently won the District 3-A boys’ basketball title and qualified for the Class A state playoffs. The very future of that school is in doubt, however. The school will close at the end of the school year unless the school’s appeal to a panel of Commonwealth Court judges is successful. A York City School District decision in 2012 not to renew New Hope’s charter triggered the legal case pending in court.

Two charter schools — Lincoln Park and Math, Civics and Sciences — went head-to-head in the Class A boys title game Friday afternoon, when attendance was frankly dismal, at least for state finals.

“We only had 3,100 or 3,200 and that’s down from last year,” Lombardi said.

But with Friday night’s doubleheader featuring the Cumberland Valley girls and the Susquehanna Township boys from nearby communities, more than 6,000 came out to boost the day’s overall attendance to 9,666.

“New Castle being in the 4A boys game will do well, so we think we’re going to draw well for the weekend,” Lombardi said. “Last year we had 24,000 overall, which was about 14,000 more than we had at Penn State the year before. If we get to around 20,000, we’ll be happy with that.”


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