When former York Catholic girls’ basketball junior varsity coach Mike Englar was hired to lead the girls’ varsity squad at New Oxford over the summer, Irish head coach Kevin Bankos had a position to fill on his staff.
It didn’t take long for a consensus candidate to emerge to take over Englar’s spot. Ashton Hirsch, who is Kevin’s daughter and formerly Ashton Bankos, was already familiar with the program after being a varsity assistant the past couple of years.
The former York Catholic standout, who has had a few opportunities pop up to coach elsewhere for herself, decided to accept her father’s offer to remain with the program. She sounded eager to step into the shoes that both Englar and her dad filled before her.
“It was a bit of a shock to lose Mike and he’s a huge loss for us, but he really deserves everything that he’s getting,” Hirsch said. “It was super exciting for him because we actually all went out to dinner with him to celebrate him getting the position and congratulating him on that. He’s been here forever…he actually coached me when I was here. So it is really neat to see him finally get his opportunity.”
Path back to York Catholic: Englar’s opportunity opened up another one for Hirsch, the 2011-12 Landmark Conference Player of the Year her senior season at Juniata College.
After graduating, Hirsch took on a role as an assistant coach at Elizabethtown College for a couple seasons before coming back to York Catholic. It was those experiences elsewhere combined with the bond that she shares with her highly-successful father that proved to be too much for other programs that showed interest in her to overcome.
“What can I say…I bleed Green and Gold,” Hirsch said. “There was a conversation that I had with my dad when we were out at dinner and we both kind of looked at each other and I was like, ‘well, yeah, why not?’ I’m already there and I love it. I love the girls and it kind of gives me a more official roll.”
Wealth of experience: This isn’t the first time that Bankos has dealt with the loss of a valued assistant during his decade-plus of leadership at the helm. Cheryl Land, who took over the Eastern York girls’ basketball program back in 2012, was an assistant at York Catholic for six years before getting her chance.
“I’ve said this before, I’m successful because of the talent I have around me,” Bankos said. “Mike (Englar) was obviously ready to be a head coach and Cheryl Land was a head coach sitting behind me. And coach (Mike) Weaver could be a coach anywhere in the county or at the college level probably. So we’ve had head coaches on the bench behind me.”
Bankos, however, isn’t sweating things out too much. He still has coach Weaver on his side as his No. 1 assistant as well as others. That fact that Bankos and Weaver and the others have been together for so long actually makes these types of transitions a bit easier.
“You never really plan on these things happening” Bankos said. “But I think that part of our success has been our consistency and our routine. So having someone who can just step right in and provide that same type of comfort, albeit in a different way than from coach Englar, is helpful.”
Schrann returning: Hirsch won’t be the only former Irish standout helping to coach the team this upcoming season. Kady Schrann, a former four-time PIAA Class 2-A first-team all-star as well as the program’s all-time scoring leader with 2,161 points, is taking over Hirsch’s former role as a varsity assistant.
Schrann played collegiately at NCAA Division I programs Vanderbilt University (2011-2013) as well as at Florida Gulf Coast (2015) after graduating from York Catholic in 2011.
“I was able to talk her into it,” Bankos said with a smile. “We tried to get her to be our junior-high coach years before but the time, it’s such a hard time for her with it being after school and all. At that time she had a job and she just couldn’t make it swing. But when Mike called and told me he was getting the job at New Oxford, I called (Kady) up and said, ‘hey, why don’t you come and be an assistant?’ And so she now is.”
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com