Long-time assistant Getz ready to take reins at West York

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

Jason Getz has been an assistant basketball coach around the York-Adams League for nearly two decades.

Over that time, there were points when Getz figured he would someday get the opportunity to lead a program of his own.

Each time, however, Getz was passed over for a different candidate.

When James Kunkle stepped down from the West York girls’ basketball position last month, that door once again opened for Getz.

West York vs. Mechanicsburg during PIAA Class 5-A girl's basketball quarterfinal action at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Mechanicsburg would win the game 45-33. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Only this time, the longtime assistant finally stepped through the door to take over his own program.

Getz, who was a top assistant the past few years under Kunkle, was officially hired to take over the Bulldogs program last week.

“At a younger age, I thought that I was ready to be a head coach,” said Getz, who has been an elementary school teacher in the West York Area School District for the last two decades. “I started as an assistant under (former West York girls’ coach) Marissa (Rice) for three years, and when she left I thought I might get the job.

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“But then they offered the job to Troy (Sowers) because he kind of had a couple of years under his belt at Spring Grove and I said ‘OK’, but the girls told me to stick around.”

Repeat situation: That was just the beginning of the  "sticking-around" situation that Getz, a Lewistown, Mifflin County, native, lived with for many years. Each time an opportunity would pop up, it would usually end with Getz sticking around as an assistant for the new coach.

West York vs. Mechanicsburg during PIAA Class 5-A girl's basketball quarterfinal action at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Mechanicsburg would win the game 45-33. Dawn J. Sagert photo

But he didn't harbor any bad feelings.

“After Troy left, I got passed over for this bum that never coached before,” Getz said before making clear that the comment was a joke after a few seconds. “And that was Jon Shultz, who did a lot of great things for the program.”

After Shultz left, Getz once again got his hopes up, only to learn the position was offered to Darrell Wildasin. Getz remained on the West York staff under Wildasin, who guided the Bulldogs to a York-Adams League title, a District 3 semifinal appearance and a berth into the PIAA state quarterfinals.

“So they passed me over (again), so it just wasn’t my timing,” Getz said. “After that I just kind of settled into being the epitome of an assistant coach. And I really enjoyed that and even thought ‘why do I want to be a head coach?’”

Getz was happy to once again help out when Kunkle replaced Wildasin five years ago. Kunkle, who had a daughter in the program, figured to try to stick around as long as Shultz — who coached at West York for 10 years — lasted.

West York Head Coach James Kunkle during PIAA Class 5-A girl's basketball quarterfinal action against Mechanicsburg at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Mechanicsburg would win the game 45-33. Dawn J. Sagert photo

So, Getz was caught a bit off-guard when Kunkle let him and Bulldogs program know that he was stepping down after leading the West York girls to the PIAA semifinals this past season.

'I'm ready': Despite the close calls and disappointments in the past, Getz figured  he would give it one last shot to finally take over the reins. And, to his surprise, the timing was finally right.

“All I could think was ‘I’m ready’,” Getz said. “I probably have been ready but it just never seemed to work out. And then this came up and it was the perfect opportunity for me.”

Getz meant that more than just personally. He is genuinely excited about the prospects of where the program could be headed on the heels of last year’s surprise success.

“This is a really, really good job,” Getz said. “There’s a great mixture of experience and youth here that is solid, so it seems like there could be a long window here for some success.”

Getz doesn’t figure to make too many drastic changes with the program this winter. While some elements will certainly differ from the Kunkle days, the majority of the coaching philosophy will remain.

“You probably won’t see much change,” Getz said. “We generally don’t have really big kids here at West York, so I like to just go fast. And, with the numbers that we have here, we should be able to do that all day.”