After Troy Sowers took the 2016-17 season off from coaching, he decided to dip his toe in the water as an assistant for the Dallastown boys’ team.
Now, the coaching veteran is diving back in, this time returning to Spring Grove as its head girls’ basketball coach. Sowers, who has coached six different York County teams since 1995, is replacing Holly Strait, who stepped down after last season. The Rockets start their season Friday.
“I just felt like I was ready to get back into the head coaching gigs,” said Sowers, who coached the Rockets’ girls’ team in 1997-98 and boys’ team for the four subsequent seasons.
Sowers, who was most recently a head coach for the York High boys’ team from 2006-07 to 2015-16, said he was intrigued by the way the Rockets (16-11, 8-4) played last season with a young roster.
“(The job) happened to open up, and I saw some film on the girls,” Sowers said. “I really liked the athleticism and speed and tenacity, and I felt like my coaching style fit the team’s strengths.”
Coaching résumé: Sowers, a 1987 graduate of York High, stepped down as the Bearcats’ head coach after the 2015-16 season after being “burned out.”
Sowers led the Bearcats to four York-Adams League Division I titles and three District 3 Class 4-A crowns in his 10 seasons. The Bearcats went 32-2 in 2008-09, finishing second in both the District 3 and PIAA tournaments. No Class 4-A team in the state won more games than York High from 2008-2014.
“That was a long, successful, physically and mentally draining 10 years,” he said. “We made the state tourney seven straight years and played into March almost every year. It was just such a competitive atmosphere on a daily basis for 10 straight years. The season never ends if you do it right, and the years just go by. It was 27 straight years.”
Choosing Spring Grove: Sowers said he is eager for the season to begin with an experienced roster.
“I think even if they weren’t returning as many girls that I was ready to get back into the head coaching position when I saw how hard the girls played,” he said. “It’s nice to return the starters because their basketball IQ is so high.”
Spring Grove athletic director Greg Wagner said Sowers is a “professional.”
“Anytime you get the opportunity to bring someone on staff with the experience and knowledge that Troy has … that is an amazing opportunity,” Wagner said. “There’s no question about what we’re getting with Troy.”
2018-19 outlook: The Rockets return four starters from a squad that won a District 3 Class 5-A playoff game and advanced to the PIAA tournament. The only departure is Ashton Ball, who is now playing at Penn State York.
“The work ethic that they’ve had so far in practice is great,” Sowers said. “It’s a fun group to work with. They’re hungry to win. They were successful last year and they just want to get to next level.”
The Rockets’ four returning starters are junior guard Haley Wagman, junior guard Ellie Glass, junior guard/forward Lexi Hoffman and senior forward Brooklyn Naylor. Wagman was the team’s leading scorer last season with 11 points per game.
Ella Kale will fill in as the other starter, and Sowers said the sophomore guard is an under-the-radar performer. Addyson Wagman, Hylin Sorrell and Hannah Gartrell will all contribute off the bench in Sowers’ eight-girl rotation.
“All of our girls could probably lead the team in scoring in any game,” he said. “That’s going to put a lot of pressure on other teams on who they want to stop.”
Sowers said he expects a lot from his players, and so far, his players have been up to the challenge.
“From day one, I could tell our personalities gelled," Sowers said. “I don’t have to artificially bring energy. I have crazy energy. They have crazy energy. And we just feed each other.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.