Most recruiting stories are the same.

Jeff Gamber, the longtime York College men's basketball coach, follows a pattern familiar to most college coaches.

He'll first show interest in a recruit, either through a phone call, personal visit to his home or by attending a game.

Over the course of the recruiting process, the player will normally visit the York College campus a couple times while Gamber will continue to attend many of his high school games.

There's one thing Gamber does that stands out from most of his coaching peers, however.

York College’s Jeff Gamber is retiring after more than three decades as the Spartans’ head basketball coach. He will be honored before Saturday
York College's Jeff Gamber is retiring after more than three decades as the Spartans' head basketball coach. He will be honored before Saturday afternoon's home game against Mary Washington. (Randy Flaum) MORE PHOTOS

"He wasn't the kind of guy that would call you everyday," York forward Andrew Pawlik said. "He would tell you 'This is what it is, this is what it's like. Take it or leave it.' It was your decision, whereas I had other coaches calling me like once every couple weeks to see how I was doing and staying in my ear, which can get annoying."

Only Gamber knows for sure if the recruiting strategy works. But it's what he's done for 36 years at the helm of the program. And so far, he's accumulated a 488-423 record and captured several Capital Athletic Conference championships along the way.

However, his tenure with the Spartans will soon come to an end. Gamber, 64, announced in early November that he'll retire after this season. After 44 years in the sideline, Gamber will coach his final two regular-season home games at York on Saturday and Wednesday.

Lessons: Though Gamber's stay at York is winding down, several of his former players believe the lessons their coach instilled will live on.

One of those is Alex Bernstein, a former Spartans' forward who learned the hard way that he needed to step up his game.

Midway through the 2001-2002 season, Gamber felt his team needed a spark. So, Gamber pulled junior captain Andy O'Brien aside before a practice one day and told him he was going to throw Bernstein, a senior, out of practice. Later, after criticizing and yelling at Bernstein for a few moments, Gamber followed through with the plan.

"I was pretty upset at the time," Bernstein said. "But looking back on it, even after the season, I realized what was going on. I think I was just being a little lazy and he wanted to say 'Hey, you better get your butt in gear.'"

Family: Another vital part of Gamber's success comes from his wife of 40-plus years, Donna. Gamber's son, Dean, said Donna has supported the program in several ways, including helping players with their grades.

"She has been a big part of the program," said Dean Gamber, who is an assistant coach under his father. "But that's the thing ... if you come to York College, you're going to be part of the basketball family. It's one thing to say it but it's another thing to try and live it. But Coach (Jeff) Gamber does."

Together, Jeff and Donna Gamber first instituted the "Three Point Attack" program at York in 1995-96. The program was devised by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) as part of the nationwide Coaches vs. Cancer initiative to raise funds for cancer research. Donna Gamber, who retired a few years ago as a Red Lion special education teacher, is a cancer survivor.

On average, the program has raised between $10,000 and $15,000 each year since it began.

Hard work: Jeff Gamber took over the York head coaching gig after coming over from Millersville University, where he was an assistant for eight years and a player for four years.

The highlight of Gamber's tenure was the Spartans' 2004-05 season when York went 28-4 with a trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four. York also won the CAC championship and set the school record for victories. For his efforts, Gamber was named the CAC Coach of the Year, the NABC Mid-Atlantic Division III Coach of the Year and also the NABC Division III National Coach of the Year.

All of this came as a result of hard work, according to Nick Brady, who is a current Spartans' assistant and one of Gamber's most successful players. Brady, who is a Delone Catholic grad and played at York from 2006 to 2010, is one of eight Spartans to reach 1,500 career points under Gamber.

"What people don't realize is the time this guy puts into every single game plan," Brady said. "It seems like after every game he goes right back into his office and watches game film and gets to work on the next game."

Dean Gamber, 37, is a Dallastown grad who played for his dad at York in the mid-1990s and has been his assistant for the past 17 seasons. And he hasn't yet given much thought to his dad's coaching career ending.

"I guess it hasn't hit me yet," he said. "But I know it's been a dream to be able to play for him and work for him. I know I'm very lucky."

Jeff Gamber's other players would probably say the same.

-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or jwalk@york dispatch.com or follow on Twitter @JohnKWalk.

Gamber's accomplishments

Following are some of Jeff Gamber's accomplishments during his career as the York College men's basketball head coach:

---His record at York over 36 seasons is 488-423, a 53.6 winning percentage.

---Gamber is first in overall Capital Athletic Conference wins (180) and first in overall wins since the start of the conference in 1991 (327). He is the only remaining men's basketball coach in the conference who has coached the entire duration of the CAC.

---He's a four-time CAC coach of the Year.

---He's coached two players who were named CAC Player of the Year (Chad McGowan and Nick Brady), all 19 of the Spartans' 1,000 career point scorers and 15 players who earned 19 first-team All-CAC accolades.

---He's a member of three athletic halls of fame -- at York College and at Millersville University, in addition to the York Area Sports Hall of Fame.

---He served as York College athletic director from 1982 to 2004.

---Gamber will also step down as the Spartans' golf coach after this spring season. The Spartans have posted a record of 1,089-475-20 record over the last 10 years, a winning percentage of about 69 percent. This spring will mark Gamber's 29th season running the program.

---At the 1996 NCAA Division III Final Four, Gamber was awarded with the NABC Division III Recognition and Appreciation Award, given to Division III coaches who make their college community and town better places to live.