It is difficult to fathom a York County basketball season without Parrish Petry.
A player and a coach for nearly half a century, Petry will still be coaching this winter, just not in York County.
After 24 years of coaching high school basketball and 10 more seasons at the helm at Penn State York, Petry stepped down as coach of the PSY program this summer. Taking over for him at PSY is Matt Rotunda, a Penn State York graduate who played under Petry as a student before becoming an assistant with him since 2011.
“I was at Penn State York for 11 years,” said Petry, who was a three-time coach of the year in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. “And the last 10 of those was as the head coach and we had a lot of success. And I talked to my wife after the season was over and we talked about the grind, and we sometimes had away trips midweek hours away and on the weekends.
“Being a retired teacher, the question was basically ‘is this what I want to continue to do?’ And my wife just made the comment like ‘what else do you have to prove?’ And I think that just kind of crystalized the realization that it was time to move on.”
Players won't forget him: Petry may be gone from the York County sports scene, but his players at PSY say they won't forget him.
“Coach Petry is the best coach I ever had,” said Justin Luton, a former basketball player and senior at PSY. “I can’t thank him enough for the lessons he taught me as a player and a man.”
“Coach Petry is my favorite coach I have had through all the sports that I played,” said Joey O’Dwyer III, a senior at Penn State York. “He coached me for three years and helped me become a better basketball player but, even more importantly, he has taught me to become a better man in life.”
Both players made those comments on the PSY website.
Many will also likely remember Petry from his high school coaching days in York County, most especially at Red Lion. During his time at Red Lion, the team enjoyed the greatest success in program history, earning five division championships, playing in two District 3 Class 4-A finals, three state tournaments and making the state eastern semifinals in 2004.
Unexpected change: Petry, who won 179 games at PSY, hoped to continue to be involved locally in coaching basketball with his position at Ballyhoo Sports Academy.
“My job after retiring from teaching at Hempfield (High in Lancaster County) was at Heritage Hills,” he said. “And I wore quite a few hats over there, first of all was as president of sports at Ballyhoo. But then some things happened.”
A new ownership group at Heritage Hills led to a reorganization with Ballyhoo Sports Academy. That reorganization led to the elimination of Petry’s position.
“Heritage decided to eliminate the basketball position,” Petry said. “Which was confusing to many.”
Not yet ready to retire fully, the former West York High School standout is now coaching in Delaware.
“Fortunately I kind of stayed a little bit ahead of the storm,” Petry said. “So I found a job at a private school here in Delaware teaching middle school math, so it’s all good.”
Will have his own night at PSY: The York Area Sports Night Hall of Famer will return to the area Friday, Dec. 6, when Penn State York raises its fourth PSUAC banner won under Petry’s leadership. The occasion is already named "Parrish Petry Night," with the banner to be raised immediately before the men’s game at 7:30 p.m.
While Petry is humbled by the honor, he is eager to see what Rotunda can do with the program.
“Matt is going to be terrific,” Petry said. “Over the years, Matt has been more and more involved with the day-to-day things, like running practices and doing game planning. There have been a couple of times over the past two years where he took over the team and coached them. And they won all of those games when he was on his own.
“Throughout the conference, he was looked upon as the best assistant of all the coaches. They all recognized how much work and input that he was giving me and they saw that the players respected him. Now, obviously, it’s a little bit different when you move one seat over, but I think he’ll be just fine.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.