Former stars give back to Ballers program as coaches
- The York Ballers AAU program has become one of the best AAU teams on the east coast.
- The program has six different teams, ranging in age from 4th graders to 11th graders.
- Several former York County high school and college standouts have come back to help as volunteer coaches.
Pat McGlynn paced back and forth on the York High School basketball court, hollering instructions as a group of ninth graders whizzed by him during a drill, making sure not to run into him.
He encouraged his players to battle one another for loose balls, even long after they had bounced out of bounds. His excitement level escalated when one of the players blocked a shot, but so did his frustration level when a player failed to come down with a rebound.
After about 15 minutes, he granted the players a water break, both for their benefit and his.
"I'm too old for this," McGlynn said, with sweat beading off his face.
McGlynn is the president of the York Ballers AAU program, but he'd prefer to be considered the organizer.
Plenty of help: Standing along the sidelines, closely observing, but not saying much, was one of McGlynn's many volunteer assistants, Jared Wagner, who is well known around York County from his playing days as a standout for Central York. He's now a freshman for the York College men's basketball team. He's also the "brains" of the coaching staff, according to McGlynn.
In total, the Ballers program fields six teams, ranging in age from fourth grade (under-10 team) to 11th grade, which is the showcase team and features many York County high school standouts. Throughout the six teams, there are 11 different coaches who help out on one, two or even three teams.
In this case, the coaches are the story. Most of them have ties to the county and many of them are former high school players at various York County schools. They're now looking to give back to the game and area. Besides Wagner, former high school and college players from the area on the coaching staff include Four McGlynn, Andrew Nicholas, Corey Stiles, Jon Showers and Justin Seitz. The hope is that Austin Tillotson will also come aboard shortly.
Those are some of the best players that York County has produced in recent memory.
Of that group, Seitz is the veteran, having played for Eastern York in the late 1990s before going on to play at Lock Haven in college. He's now the ninth-grade boys' coach at Eastern. The others are more recently out of college and looking to hand off some of their knowledge of the game to the next crop of young players.
"I'm a little bit older," Seitz said. "You get these younger guys in here and they speak their language. The kids want to basically do what those guys are doing, or just got done doing, as far as playing at a high level of college basketball."
Coming back to give back: Four McGlynn is one of the most notable names of the bunch, shining for Dallastown in high school, before going on to play NCAA Division I ball for Vermont, Towson and Rhode Island. He was drafted into a Canadian pro league before getting cut early this past winter.
Nicholas was part of some of the best teams in Golden Knights history back in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before going on to play at Monmouth.
Showers and Stiles both played for York Catholic and have gotten into coaching. Showers is an assistant at York College, while Stiles is a former head coach at York Country Day, where he led the program to its first-ever District 3 title last season.
Wagner, even though he's just finishing up his first year of college, couldn't resist the temptation to help out.
"I think it speaks strongly for Pat McGlynn," said Brad Weaver, a coach for the Ballers and the Eastern York girls' varsity team, on why so many kids come back to help coach. "That's one of the reasons I'm here. To learn from (Pat McGlynn), and I think it's the tradition. Talking with Pat, he'll do anything he can, not only to help one of the kids that played in the Ballers organization, but any kid in the area."
Coaching stepping stone: The common theme for the young coaches is that they want to have a future in coaching.
Some have already started down that path, while others want to use the Ballers as a stepping stone. Showers, Seitz, Stiles and Nicholas are already doing that, with Nicholas serving as Weaver's assistant on the girls' team this past season at Eastern. Meanwhile, Four McGlynn wants to get into coaching at the college level, according to Pat, so they're actively searching for graduate assistant positions while he helps out the Ballers. Wagner also wants to be a coach after college, and he figured there'd be no better place to begin.
"I want to be a college coach," Wagner said. "Getting into coaching was easy. All I had to do was contact Pat and he was always willing to help and that's what I love about him. I always wanted to come back and coach this organization. They helped me become really who I am, so I wanted to give back to the community and to the kids who are playing here now."
"It's a family": Most everything about the Ballers eventually comes back to Pat McGlynn.
He's the mastermind behind it all, essentially building it from scratch so that Four had a nearby team to play for when he was in middle school. Now, it's become one of the top AAU programs in the region, going toe-to-toe with some standout teams out of Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ohio, New York, Maryland and Washington. This past weekend, it put two teams into the Elite Eight Round of Hoop Group, one of the top showcase events on the East Coast, with more than 30 college coaches and scouts watching any given game.
The Ballers' success is a testament to the talent of York County players, but youngsters outside of the area have taken notice, too. Pat McGlynn said he has a player from New Jersey and one from the Allentown area, who each drive more than two hours to play for the program.
McGlynn, however, insists he's not the brains of the operations. He leaves that work to his coaches.
"It's a family," Nicholas said. "I know, whoever played for coach Pat from when I was in sixth grade up 'til now, we're always going to have each other's backs and go out and help practice. He's given up more time than people realize. ... He gives his life to basketball and he's helped all of us on and off the court, and it's not even giving back. It's just the program means so much to us."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org