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New Central York boys' coach: 'God put me on this earth to coach basketball'

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
  • Jeff Hoke was approved as Central York's boys' basketball coach Monday.
  • Hoke replaces Kevin Schieler, who resigned after last season.
  • Hoke was 92-60 during his six years at Bishop McDevitt.

When Jeff Hoke moved back to Pennsylvania in February to be closer to family, he hoped an opportunity to get back into coaching would present itself. 

Almost six years after he resigned as the Bishop McDevitt High boys’ basketball coach to move to North Carolina for his full-time job, Hoke missed coaching basketball. A new job allowed him to move back to his home state so his family could spend time with his 6-month-old daughter. It also offered more free time to get back into coaching.

Kevin Schieler says he no longer has energy needed to be Central York's basketball coach

Hoke had opportunities to volunteer at some schools, but a week after he moved, Hoke learned that the Central York High head boys’ basketball coaching job would open after the season. Hoke was shocked that former Central York coach Kevin Schieler was going to leave the gig, but knew it was the perfect opportunity to become a head coach again.

Monday, the Central York school board approved Hoke as Schieler's successor.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Hoke said. “I really didn’t want to just take a job to take a job. It had to be the right situation to be a head coach. I wouldn’t have just taken any head coaching job.”

Jeff Hoke, left, poses for a photo with a former player during his time coaching at Bishop McDevitt High. Hoke was approved as the Central York High boys' basketball head coach on Monday.

Missed the kids: Hoke had a 92-60 record in his six seasons at Bishop McDevitt in the traditionally-strong Mid-Penn Conference. He led the Harrisburg team to the PIAA Class 3-A playoffs in three of his final four seasons. Before he coached Bishop McDevitt, Hoke led the teams at Camp Hill and Palmyra.

More than he missed the victories and the playoff appearances, Hoke desired to get back to building relationships with players and helping them become young men. He volunteered at a high school while in North Carolina and stayed in contact with college coaches, including his friend and University of Southern California head coach Andy Enfield. He said, however, that nothing compares to working directly with high school players.

“God put me on this earth to coach basketball and help kids go from high school to college, be grown men and do the right thing,” Hoke said. “To be able to watch these kids grow on-and-off the court and be invited to (former players’) weddings is really exciting.”

Not changing much: Hoke compared taking over the Panthers’ program under Schieler to Jay Wright’s Villanova University team. He credited Schieler for developing a youth program that has led to continued success.

With a talented rising senior class that includes Taylor Wright-Rawls, Nolan Hubbs, Judah Tomb, Shiloh Johnson, Kai’Ryn Brown and rising junior Beau Pribula, Hoke said he doesn’t anticipate changing much after the team’s 24-5 campaign 2019-2020, which included York-Adams League Division I and Y-A League Tournament titles.

Central York celebrates a 69-67 win over Northeastern during boys' basketball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Central York athletic director Marty Trimmer said he was familiar with Hoke from the coach's time at Bishop McDevitt. Trimmer said the fact that Hoke and Schieler share similar coaching styles was one of the factors in the decision to pick Hoke for the job.

“I know he brings a lot of energy to the table and he likes to play an up-tempo game, which Kevin (Schieler) liked to do,” Trimmer said. “It’s not going to be a big transition for our kids and I think that’s important because we have a lot of kids back and I think we have a chance to be pretty good again this year.”

Wright-Rawls, Tomb, Brown and Pribula are also members of the school’s football team and are also in the process of adjusting to a new coach on the gridiron after Gerry Yonchiuk took over for Josh Oswalt. Hoke said he and Yonchiuk have talked about how to make it easier for the players to learn from two new coaches at the same time. 

He added that he coached New York Jets cornerback Bryce Hall at Bishop McDevitt, so he has experience working with NCAA Division I football players and supports multi-sport athletes.

The two new Central York coaches live a few miles from each other and have a plan to meet this week and discuss how to implement a plan to help both teams succeed.

“We understand the challenges of that,” Hoke said. “I told him: ‘Football season is coming up, that’s first and I’m all in.’ I don’t want any conflict between football and basketball, I want it to be seamless. Gerry and I are on the same page, we just want success for everything at Central York.”

Humbled and excited: With offseason activities expected to resume in July, Hoke is eagerly waiting for a chance to get back on the court. A member of the fitness industry, Hoke, 51, said he still loves to stay in shape and will run every sprint with the Panthers during practice.

Former Central York boys' basketball head coach Kevin Schieler watches Taylor Wright Rawls dribble down the court in a file photo. Wright-Rawls will be playing under a new coach next season. Jeff Hoke was approved as the Panthers' new head coach on Monday night.  Dawn J. Sagert photo

With his hiring now official, Hoke is ready to get started once team activities can resume. With a talented team returning and a youth program he admires, the Panthers’ new coach said Central York was the perfect fit and hopes it will be the last place he ever coaches.

“I’m humbled, honored and more excited than a kid at Christmas,” Hoke said. “This is my last stop. I told (Marty) Trimmer: ‘This is it.’ I would like to make a 20-year run at this thing and have Central York continue the success on-and-off the court that Kevin (Schieler) has developed. I couldn’t be more excited.” 

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.