There's an expression in life that you can never go home again.
For James Kunkle that saying proved incorrect.
A week after resigning his post as the girls' basketball head coach at New Oxford, Kunkle is indeed going home again. After spending two years leading the Colonial program to a high degree of success, which included an appearance in the York-Adams League title game and a spot in the PIAA Class 5A playoffs last year, the 40 year old was officially approved as the new head coach at West York by the school board on Tuesday, Aug. 15.
It's a homecoming of sorts for Kunkle, who is taking over the program that Darrell Wildasin led for the past three seasons. Kunkle was an assistant coach for the Bulldogs under Jon Shultz previously. He's also a resident in the West York School District. He has two daughters attending West York schools.
"I found out in late July, but waiting for the board meeting (Tuesday) was a little rough," Kunkle said. "But I actually had a few players show up at the board meeting in support of me, which was kind of cool to see the girls out there. I know that they hated to see Wildasin leave, but I know that they are excited for me coming back."
During his two years with Schultz, Kunkle was responsible for managing the youth programs in the West York program. The girls he oversaw were in third and fourth grades back then and are now sophomores and freshmen.
“They’re just a great group of girls,” Kunkle said of that group. “They are all with about the same abilities with some different attributes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a great difference from fourth grade to now, but the way they matured, they just kept building on top of it. I just think that their whole mentality of being team-first players is still the same.”
That group includes sophomores such as Makennah Hoffman and Alayna Harris. Those two combined to average more than 15 points a game as freshmen. Kunkle feels like there is a whole lot more that both of those youngsters can provide next season.
He is also excited to work with seniors Paige Weekly (9.4 ppg) and Angie Hawkins, the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 scorers from a season ago.
“We’ll have a great all-around shooter with Makennah Hoffman, an all-around player in Alayna Harris and one of the strongest and biggest point guards throughout the county with Angie Hawkins,” Kunkle said. “Then we have two legitimate post players that can hopefully dominate inside with Paige Weekly and Alyssa Zorbaugh.”
Looking for depth: Kunkle’s biggest concerns with his new club come on the bench. Beyond those five, he will search for role players to step up and make contributions.
“It’s going to come down to depth,” he said. “We need some players to step up and fill roles on the varsity roster.”
Kunkle’s philosophy will feature a return to a similar style that proved so successful under Shultz. The Bulldogs will look to push the tempo whenever they can to try to wear down opponents.
“I like to get out in the open court and run up-tempo,” he said.
The staff: Most of Kunkle’s staff at New Oxford, which included former York Catholic standout Megan Stewart, will join Kunkle at West York. Kunkle, however, is excited that Denton Senft, who helped out both Shultz and Wildasin, will stick around. He's also pleased with the return of Jason Getz, who coached the junior varsity team under Shultz, to the program.
“I think it’s important to have a lot of outlets to bounce ideas around with,” Kunkle said. “I try to surround myself with a great staff and we had a really good one at New Oxford. We all worked well together and had our roles and we all kind of orchestrated everything."
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.