In growing trend, boys' coaches move to girls' hoops

  • Many of the York-Adams girls' basketball head coaches once coached on the boys' side.
  • That includes some well-known names, such as Kevin Bankos, Gerry Eckenrode and Darrell Wildasin.
  • Four of the new girls' basketball coaches have also coached the boys' game at some level.

The state of high school basketball coaching seems to change every few seasons.

Today's game features different coaching styles and practice regimens, as well as an increased emphasis on strength training.

Coach Kevin Bankos led his York Catholic girls' team to York-Adams Division III and District 3 Class 3-A titles this season.

Those are all things that differ from the way things were done in the past.

One more trend that has been slowly making its way throughout the game is the influx of boys’ coaches into the girls’ game. For the longest time, it was pretty standard for boys’ basketball coaches to stick with the boys, with the same going for the girls’ basketball coaches.

Those lines have blurred considerably of late. The 2016-17 season appears to be the biggest sign that those changes are not going away anytime soon.

No fewer than four former boys’ basketball coaches (varsity and junior varsity) in the York-Adams League will be in new head-coaching roles on the girls' basketball sidelines come Dec. 9 when the regular season gets started. Many others, such as York Catholic’s Kevin Bankos, Delone Catholic’s Gerry Eckenrode and York High’s Larry Corbin, have previous experience coaching in the lower levels of boys’ basketball before they assumed their roles leading the girls’ programs.

Bankos certainly understands some of the reasons behind the recent trend. While the games themselves are the same, some of the key ways of doing things are very different.

“From a basketball side it’s really not that different,” Bankos said. “Boys are typically more athletic so they can get away with some things from time to time. But girls usually cannot get away with bad positioning and then make up for it with athleticism. They have to be fundamentally more disciplined.”

Former Northeastern boys’ JV coach Chuck Maxfield has learned that first hand. Maxfield will be making his head-coaching debut this season with Northeastern girls’ team. After coaching his son, Donovian, for many years, Maxfield’s transition to the girls’ side means he will be connected with his daughter, Camryn.

“One thing I can say is that girls are more disciplined, while the boys try to use their athleticism,” Maxfield said. “Girls will listen and they will do what you ask them to do.”

The differences between the two sides have also decreased over the past generation. The girls' game used to be considered a slower and less exciting game to watch back then. Now, many believe that gap has narrowed.

“The girls' game is a fun game to watch now,” Bankos said. “You have kids that can shoot 3s, kids that can handle the ball and play defense full-court. We’ve been in some pretty big games over the years and I’ll have people come up to me and say things all the time like ‘hey, that’s not what girls’ basketball used to look like when I played.’ And that’s true…it’s not.”

Perhaps the biggest draw, in Bankos’ opinion, is the ability of more veteran coaches to get back to their roots as teachers of the game.

“When you coach the girls, you get to teach,” Bankos said. “And I think that the common thread when you talk to these coaches is that it’s about being able to teach. And if you love to teach, the girls' side is where you want to go coach.”

New coaches: Brad Weaver, a former assistant on the boys' side at Eastern York, is taking over the girls' program at that school. Weaver’s hiring became necessary when Cheryl Land, who coached the team for the past four seasons, was forced to step down because of stipulations for retired teachers and athletic coaches under the Pennsylvania State Education Retirement System and its "retirement code."

Another notable newcomer is Jay Rexroth, who coached the Dallastown boys to two York-Adams League titles over his 17 years. Rexroth has recently been an assistant coach with the girls' teams at both Dover and York Suburban before taking over the head coaching reins with the Dallastown girls.

Jay Rexroth

Then there's new Kennard-Dale coach Bob Rudisill. Perhaps one of the pioneers of this recent trend of boys' coaches moving over to the girls' side, Rudisill led the K-D boys for 18 years before eventually coaching the York Suburban girls for seven years. While Rudisill had some success at Suburban, he is probably best known for leading the Kennard-Dale boys’ team to a District 3-AAA title in 1993.

In addition, Darrell Wildasin returns for his third year as the West York girls' coach. Wildasin previously had boys' coaching stints at Spring Grove, Delone Catholic at Susquehannock.

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