Coaching in the college ranks was always part of Don Dimoff's dreams as a basketball coach.
But, when he took over the Red Lion girls' basketball position before the 1994-95 season, he became engulfed in the culture of the program and never could seem to leave. Now, after 22 years, he is leaving, confirming his resignation on Monday, to take a part-time coaching job with the Millersville University women's program. His daughter, Courtney, will be a freshman on the team for the upcoming season.
"I want to say late May, Millersville posted an opening for a part-time assistant," Dimoff said. "I went through the application process, the interview process, so on and so forth, and I'd say, maybe a week and a half ago, after all their deliberations, they called and offered me the position."
After spending more than two decades with the Lions, Dimoff needed time to make sure this was the right move for him, and after a week of consulting with his family and other coaches, he accepted the position. The next part, was for him to inform Red Lion athletic director Arnie Fritzius and the school district administration of his decision.
"I told them that I had been offered and was contemplating it and then I obviously told them a few days ago when I decided to accept," Dimoff said. "It's something that's been a part of me for 22, 23 years. I feel very strongly about the program, about the things we've done over the years, and it was obviously very difficult."
Stellar record: In 22 years as the Lions' head coach, Dimoff went 480-141, good for a .773 winning percentage. In league games, Dimoff's Lions were even better, going 298-38 (an .887 winning percentage). Dimoff's teams won nine York-Adams League titles, including this past season. On top of that, 14 times Red Lion was the Y-A League Division I champion, including winning 12 straight from 2000-01 through 2011-12. The Lions also won the District 3-AAAA titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
During his time with Red Lion, Dimoff did say he threw his name into the college coaching ring when certain jobs came open, but never stepped away from the high school ranks, either because he didn't think it was the right time, or he didn't get the job. But, once Courtney entered high school four years ago, he put his college aspirations on hold to coach her.
Now, with Courtney recently graduated, it seems like good timing for him to finally move onto the college game, but he said that even if Courtney hadn't chosen to play at Millersville and the position there still opened up, he would've pursued it. Dimoff did approach Courtney before applying for the Millersville job, and then again after being offered the position, to make sure she was OK with him following her to college.
Dimoff will continue to serve as Red Lion's marketing and communications manager, as well as a co-coach for the golf team.
As for whether or not this is the start of something bigger for him in college coaching, Dimoff said he's not looking that far ahead just yet.
"That's one of those things that you're never sure how that's going to shake out," he said about possibly becoming a head coach in college. "I'm just going to take things one step at a time, go over and do the best that I can at Millersville."
Local ties at Millersville: At Millersville, Dimoff will work for Mary Fleig, who has compiled 475-251 record in 26 years with the Marauders. Fleig started her coaching career with Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown. The Maruaders were 19-9 last year.
In addition to his daughter, Dimoff will also be working with two other former York County standouts at Millersville. Former Dover star Alayah Hall will be a junior this season, while ex-Northeastern standout Jordyn Kloster will be a freshman. Hall averaged 4.3 points per game as a sophomore.
The opening for Dimoff's position was made public in a news release sent out by Fritzius in an email earlier Monday.
Fritzius said learning of Dimoff's resignation was "bittersweet," but he's known for years of Dimoff's dreams to coach at the college level, so he knew it was only a matter of time.
With the application process now open, Fritzius said he anticipates that he'll accept applications until the middle of August and then hopes to take a candidate to the school board by the September school board meeting for approval. However, with Dimoff's tremendous success over a long stretch of time, Fritzius thinks that could actually scare off some candidates.
"I think there's definitely some people out there who won't want to follow that success he had," Fritzius said. "My guess is it will break down into thirds. There will be a third of candidates that won't want to follow that. It's too lofty of a tradition he's created. There will be a third that's just not qualified to do the stuff that we want to have done and then there will be a small group that are both qualified and willing to take on the challenge."
Below is the full statement and list of requirements for applicants.
"Red Lion Area School District has an immediate opening for varsity head coach-girls' basketball. Candidate should have a strong background in collegiate or high school basketball. The successful candidate will act as the liaison to the community and youth basketball programs. This individual will be responsible to cultivate an effective and competitive girls' basketball program for the district. Candidates should submit application to: www.rlasd.net.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org