DALLASTOWN — The best coaches aren’t necessarily more skilled or talented than their lesser-regarded peers.
What often separates them is their support staff.
One doesn’t have to look too far to know that is certainly the case. York Catholic girls’ basketball coach Kevin Bankos is undeniably one of the wisest coaches around. Entering his 10th season at York Catholic with 230 career victories, the Irish have captured nine straight District 3-AA titles (and 10 overall) under Bankos’ watch, while advancing to six PIAA title games, winning two of them.
Bankos, however, doesn’t go it alone. Several former assistants — Dover’s Marley Klunk and Eastern York’s Cheryl Land — are now leading other programs around the York-Adams League. And he still has a very talented staff today, including Mike Weaver and Mike Englar.
In other words, as impressive as Bankos’ resume looks, he’s had some help. He'll be the first tell anyone that.
That fact hasn’t gone without notice by Dallastown coach Mary Manlove. A former standout at York Catholic, Manlove knows that she needs all the help she can get.
Fortunately for her, her cry for help has been answered. When former Eastern coach Bob Heiser stepped away from his most recent coaching gig with the Penn State York women’s team last season, Manlove was able to secure Heiser as an assistant coach for her Wildcats program.
Heading into her seventh season leading Dallastown, Manlove couldn’t have been more pleased with her good fortune.
“I’ve been trying for years to get (Coach Heiser),” she said. “It just worked out.”
For Heiser, who compiled 220 wins, six division titles and a District 3-AAA title in 2007 during his 12 years as head coach at Eastern, it was a decision that he is totally comfortable with at this point in his career.
“I would always get a message from (Mary) that I could come (to Dallastown) any time I’d want,” he said. “It took me a couple years, but so far I’m having a ball.”
Heiser joins a pair of former York Catholic standouts, Megan Stewart and Shawn Maloney, on Manlove’s four-person staff. His presence, even after less than a week of practices, already has been a big help for Manlove, Stewart and Maloney.
“It’s comforting to know that there’s someone else on the bench that’s seen it and done it all,” Manlove said. “It’s awesome to be able to look to Coach Heiser for leadership and mentorship. He’s not just another coach on our staff. I really love picking his brain, looking up to him and saying ‘how did you handle this?’ or ‘how does this work?' That’s invaluable right now for us.”
The extra help will no doubt come in handy as Manlove deals with a bit of a sea change from a bigger team to a quicker one. Gone are the outstanding trio of Katie McGowan and Debria Hendricks (York College) and Amari Johnson (Rhode Island), who combined for 38.1 of the team’s 50.6 points a game last year as seniors.
Sabrina Stough, Natalie Gettle and Samantha Smith don’t have the same size as McGowan and Johnson (6-foot-1), but they all will be counted on to shoulder a much greater burden this winter.
“We are going to be under-sized compared to what we had last year,” Manlove said. “When you lose two 6-1 kids everything feels tiny without them. So we’ll have to change some things and do things that will better fit our personality.”
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.