The 2012-13 basketball season is pretty much a blur for West York head coach Bill Ackerman.
"I have trouble remembering a lot of last season," Ackerman said on the opening day of practice on Monday. "I think it had something to do with the trauma last year."
The Bulldogs' veteran coach, who's entering his 18th season, battled prostate cancer last year.
"I got the phone call (that cancerous cells were found in five of 12 samples) an hour and a half before we played Central York here. I couldn't think straight.
"My father had prostate cancer twice, and that's why, even though the doctor told me I was in great shape, after a physical, I said, 'check me for prostate cancer.'"
The test results overwhelmed Ackerman at first, but backed by the support of family, friends, West York students, faculty and members of the community, he fought the disease.
Today, Ackerman is cancer free.
"They (the doctors) feel that the cancer cells were all encapsulated in the prostate," he said. "I have another checkup coming up this week, but I feel pretty confident at this point that (the cancer) is all in the past."
On Monday, Ackerman and his players were preparing for the future, the 2013-14 season. Optimism is high in the West York camp, where the Bulldogs are aiming for a huge bounce back from last season's uncharacteristic 10-12 finish.
"I know this may sound crazy, but we have 11 guys who can play," Ackerman said, "We're going to have lot of contributors this year. However, I know our league is going to be tough this year. I really think if you can get through our league, I think you can do something in districts."
Ackerman listed Kevin Rice, Parker Weekly, Josh Bailey, Darian McCauley, Chase Neiderer and Noah Cable as returning starters. Rice provided inspiration for Ackerman in his battle with cancer.
"Two months before I was diagnosed, Kevin Rice lost his dad to cancer," Ackerman said. "I wanted to put on a good face, good fight for Kevin. I didn't want to be moping around in my situation with Kevin having lost his dad. And one of my golfers (Ackerman is also the West York golf coach), Brady Lucas, has battled leukemia."
Rice is West York's top returning scorer (13.4 points a game). He and his teammates want to have a memorable season for themselves and their coach.
"When my dad passed away, it was tough, and he (Ackerman) was there for me," Rice said. "He told me, 'I love you like a son.' He's a second father to me."
Ackerman should reach a coaching milestone this season: he needs just six victories for 300.
"I've been here a long time, and I've been blessed with a lot of good players," he said. "There are some great coaches on the list of coaches who have won 300, and to be mentioned with those guys is pretty cool."
-- Dick VanOlinda writes about high school sports for The York Dis patch. He can be reached at dvanolinda@yorkdis patch.com.