Hasenfuss began his first season at Central High School this past Friday after three years away from the coaching ranks.
During his sabbatical, Hasenfuss served as an advance scout for the Elizabethtown College men's basketball program.
"After 17 years as a head coach (at Eastern and Central Dauphin), I wanted to see how other people did things," Hasenfuss said before practice on Monday evening. "I learned a lot."
Hasenfuss feels he's not only a better coach, when it comes to X's and O's, but a coach with a better perspective.
"When I was coaching before, everything revolved around basketball," he said.
Hasenfuss said the death of his mother, Rita, in 2005, caused him to change his perspective on basketball and life. Plus, he's now a middle-aged coach, not a young coach.
However, Hasenfuss hasn't lost his passion for coaching or basketball. He plans to do everything he can to make Central a better team at the end of the season than it is at the beginning of the season.
"I remember talking to my dad (Joe Hasenfuss won 549 games during his coaching career at Lebanon Catholic and York Suburban) when I first started getting some good teams down at Eastern, and he told me, focus on improvement," he said. "But, when you're young, that doesn't always sink in."
A diversified occupations teacher/coordinator at Dallastown High School, Hasenfuss has coached some outstanding teams. He compiled an overall record of 269-172 at Eastern and Central Dauphin, winning a District 3 Class AAAA title at Central Dauphin. His Eastern teams captured four division titles and one York-Adams League crown. He resigned at Eastern, citing philosophical differences with the athletic administration.
Hasenfuss enjoyed the time away from coaching, but he felt himself being pulled back to it.
"I missed being in the gym and being around kids," he said. "And instead of making a one-hour commute after practice (from Central Dauphin, outside of Harrisburg, to York), I have a 15-minute commute."
Hasenfuss' Central team possesses plenty of height, but it's short on proven scorers. The Panthers were 12-12 overall a season ago and 9-6 in York-Adams Division I.
The team's leading scorer last year, Tre Bowman (21.6 points) graduated. The second-leading scorer, Charles Anderson (9.1 a game) returns. The Panthers will look to get the ball inside to Spencer Ortmyer (6-5), Ricky Mosley (6-4), Kyle Wisner (6-4) and Chris Stewart (6-2).
"We don't have kids who I can point to and say definitely, he's going to be an all-star," Hasenfuss said. "But we have size and some quickness, and I think this team could be a case where the sum of the parts are good. The team kind of reminds me of my first one at Central Dauphin."
Hasenfuss' first Central Dauphin team, following a slow start, went on to win 19 games and qualify for the PIAA State Class AAAA Tournament. The Rams defeated Hazleton and Cheltenham in states before losing to Parkland in the quarterfinals.
"It is a rebuilding season," Hasenfuss said. "The pieces, though, could be there to have a nice team. I still want to win each time we go out there, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."
Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-5407.