HEISER: Seismic shift in York County coaching landscape
- Don Dimoff has left Red Lion to become an assistant at Millersville University.
- Brad Livingston was forced out of his coaching positions at Central York.
- Citing burn out, Troy Sowers resigned as York High boys' basketball coach.
- Bill Ackerman left his job at West York to spend more time with his family.
In just more than seven months, the York County coaching landscape has experienced a seismic shift.
Four men who had firmly established themselves among the most recognizable figures in area high school athletics have moved on from the jobs that had defined their sports lives.
The latest tremor came Monday, when longtime Red Lion girls' basketball boss Don Dimoff confirmed he is leaving the Lions' program to become an assistant coach at Millersville University, where his daughter, Courtney, will be a freshman player next season.
That follows the departures of Central York football/boys' volleyball coach Brad Livingston, York High boys' basketball coach Troy Sowers and West York boys' basketball coach Bill Ackerman.
The reasons for their exits varied. Livingston was forced out for reasons that have never been made public. Sowers cited burn out. Ackerman wanted to spend more time with his family. And Dimoff moved on to a new challenge.
No matter their reasons for leaving, the four men had one thing very much in common — uncommon success.
All four had won District 3 championships. All four had won multiple York-Adams League championships. All four finished with winning records that any coach would envy. And all four became iconic figures within their high school communities over a period of a decade or more.
They had critics: That's not to say, however, that all four were universally beloved.
In this day and age of high school athletics, that simply does not happen.
No matter how successful, no matter how fair-minded and no matter how brilliant a strategist, every high school coach will have critics.
Parents will be unhappy with their child's playing time. Players will be unhappy with how they are treated. And super fans will be unhappy that good teams aren't great.
There is simply no pleasing everyone. It's the nature of the coaching beast.
Despite the critics, Livingston, Sowers, Ackerman and Dimoff not only survived the slings and arrows of their detractors, they thrived.
Their records and their longevity are proof of that.
If you asked each of them what they cherished most about their coaching careers, however, the first thing they would mention wouldn't be the wins and the championships.
It would be the relationships, especially with their players.
The ability to have a positive and lasting impact on a young person's life is something to be truly prized.
Livingston, Sowers, Ackerman and Dimoff have had lasting impacts. That can't be denied. And if you ask their players, past and present, a large majority would likely say they had positive impacts, too.
Just because they're no longer in the coaching positions that made them household names in York County athletics, that doesn't mean they won't continue to impact young lives.
Livingston will be an assistant football coach at Northern York this fall. Dimoff is moving on to Millersville. Sowers and Ackerman are still teachers.
No matter what happens in the future, however, all four men can reflect on successful coaching careers. That can't be changed.
Ackerman may have said it best when he talked about what was truly important to him about his time as the Bulldogs' head coach.
"Coaching will always be a part of me," he said. "I think one of the greatest things a person can call you is 'coach.' I think it's one of the highest forms of respect and I certainly hope I never lose that moniker.”
Ackerman need not worry. Nor should Livingston, Sowers or Dimoff.
Their past achievements have cemented their future legacies.
All four men will forever be “coach.”
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.