New Northeastern boys' volleyball coach looks to continue legacy of legendary predecessor
MANCHESTER — It’s a question that new Northeastern boys’ volleyball coach Lamar Fahnestock Jr. has heard dozens of times already.
Officially hired for his new position just more than a month ago during Northeastern’s February school board meeting, Fahnestock is keenly aware of the position he is filling.
The question was first asked when he applied for the position back in late December. And it keeps coming up every time he meets a new person familiar with the rich history of the Northeastern program.
That question is simply this:
How do you plan to replace a legend?
The legend in question is Matt Wilson, who won seven PIAA titles, nine District 3 crowns and 11 York-Adams League titles in 26 years as the head coach of the Northeastern boys’ volleyball program.
Fahnestock, who played and coached with his father at Elizabethtown High School, has an easy answer.
“My response is simply that you can’t replace a hall-of-fame-level coach,” Fahnestock said.
Carrying on the tradition: That doesn’t mean that Fahnestock, who is 27, plans on allowing the Bobcats’ program to falter. He envisions carrying on the illustrious tradition.
“I may become (a hall-of-fame coach) myself, but I still am never going to replace Matt,” he said. “What Matt has done here is something that will never be done again here at Northeastern the exact same way. So, I’m not looking to replace Matt, but to continue his legacy and take this program in the best direction that I can.”
Fahnestock already sounds a lot like Wilson in terms of his expectations.
“I’m going to come into the gym every day believing that we could win a state title,” he said. “If I don’t come in with that type of thought process, I feel like I’m already failing my team.”
Still playing the sport: Also, like Wilson, Fahnestock enters his first varsity head coaching position as a player of the sport himself.
While he never played collegiately at Ohio State, as Wilson did, Fahnestock played four years in high school and continues to play competitively in doubles competition around the region.
“I was a hitter in high school my freshman year,” he said. “But then I tore my shoulder and I moved to setter and that’s where I’ve done most of my work. I still play competitively at the adult national team level, which is like AAU, and stuff like that for adults. And I’ve also played a lot of libero roles. So, I think I’m a fairly strong player all-around, and (playing) doubles does that to you.”
Some familiar assistants: Fahnestock, who was in consideration for the Hempfield boys’ volleyball coaching position, hopes to get off to a fast start in his first year with the help of a couple of assistants who are very familiar with the Northeastern program.
While familiar faces like George Miller and Brady Shellenberger retired along with Wilson, the trio of Eric Shoemaker, Stephen Braswell and Travis Clemens will be looked on to help keep the Bobcats’ program at a high level.
All three played at Northeastern in high school and bring a degree of knowledge that should be invaluable to a Bobcat program that will be relatively young, compared to other Northeastern teams over the past decade. That was important to Fahnestock, who really only had a few weeks to prepare for the upcoming season.
“Stephen is going to coach our feeder program in the middle school,” Fahnestock said. “So, I know that’s going to be under control. Eric is going to be around, and I know that as long as he’s around, he’s going to be a huge help. And Travis is our big addition, as he’s going to be the JV coach this year.”
Where he was destined to coach: The whirlwind of preparation getting ready for the upcoming season has been a bit of a blur for Fahnestock, but he knows in his heart that he is where he was destined to be.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity,” he said. “When I left my interview (back in December), I knew that Northeastern is where I really wanted to coach. And they obviously felt the same, as I got a call less than 24 hours later offering me the position.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ydsports.