The Kennard-Dale girls' and York Catholic boys' lacrosse teams won York-Adams League tournament titles Friday, May 11, at Red Lion High School. The Rams' Morgan Bowings and the Irish's Chandler Hake discussed their team's victories. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
In sports, there's often not a great time to call it quits.
Sometimes, the greats stay around too long, which can take away some luster from otherwise remarkable careers.
Others decide to hang it up before they get to that point, leaving their fans a little disappointed and yearning for more.
If you asked most folks in Fawn Grove, Kennard-Dale girls’ basketball coach Bob Rudisill would certainly have to be placed in the latter category.
The man they call Coach Bob never imagined that he'd find himself in such a situation, but that is exactly where he is.
He took over the K-D girls' program two seasons ago — with a lot of prodding from some of the men who would eventually become his assistant coaches. He then helped the Rams to a history-making season.
Rudisill, however, is calling it quits for the third and last time after leading his young squad to its first-ever PIAA state victory.
“I’ve coached for a long time,” he said. “And this was hard for me because I’ve had a blast coaching these kids for four years, but I think that the decision to retire for me at this point was right.”
Moving to Florida: Changes are a constant in life, and Rudisill knew this was coming after submitting his teaching retirement papers to the school district last September. Coach Bob plans on moving to St. Augustine in Florida, where he bought a house to live near family.
“I have a son and his wife and a grandson down in Florida,” he said. “... (At) the beginning of the season I knew this was going to be it, for sure."
Coach Bob sounds like he means it this time.
Previous stops: After a highly successful run as the boys’ coach at K-D, in which he led the program to its only District 3 championship and a state playoff victory back in the 1990s, Rudisill thought he was done with coaching in 1998.
When the York Suburban girls, however, needed a head coach in 2006, Rudisill couldn’t say no, especially not with his daughter in the program at the time. After a handful of successful years at Suburban, Rudisill walked away from that program, believing that he could finally enjoy his coaching retirement back in 2012.
“Five or six years ago when I stopped coaching at Suburban I thought I might be done then,” he said. “My kids were all grown by then and my wife and I like to take off for weekends and do whatever. But when you’re a head coach in basketball you have year-round responsibilities, so we couldn’t do that too often.”
Getting back into coaching at K-D: A few years later, however, the longtime teacher at the middle school in the Southeastern School District was informed that the K-D girls needed a junior high coach. Sure enough, Coach Bob was being lobbied to get back into the coaching profession.
“I’ve always taught seventh grade,” he said. “So I’ve taught Megan Halczuk, Megan Thomas and Kayla Huber, who are our juniors, back in seventh grade. And I thought they were cool kids and the next thing you know they needed a junior high coach. So I said something to my wife and I said, ‘you know, practices are 3 to 5 every day and I’ll still beat you home and I think I can help these kids.' So I took over the junior high program.”
Coaxed into leading varsity team: Rudisill figured that would be the end of it, but again another opportunity opened up two years later when the high school varsity program was seeking a new coach. Despite his initial rejection of the offer, those who wanted Rudisill back remained persistent.
“They asked me if I wanted the job and I said, ‘No!,'" Rudisill said. “But (the coaching search) went on for months and some of my friends and coaches who had daughters in the program said if I got back into it that they would help out as much as they can. So I agreed to do it.”
After a rocky season in terms of wins and losses in 2016-2017, the Rams flourished this past season under Rudisill, earning a berth into the Y-A League playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. A berth into the District 3 Class 4-A bracket preceded an eventual berth into the PIAA tournament, where the Rams claimed their first-ever state triumph.
Future bright for Rams: A team with no seniors this past season, the Rams figure to be a top contender for titles next year. While that won’t change, Rudisill won’t be there on the bench leading the charge.
Coach Bob, however, believes that even greater success is on the horizon next year.
“I think we proved a lot this year,” he said. “We lost to Susky by 20 back in early January, but that was the only game all year that we didn’t have a chance to win. When we played them again at the end of the season we only lost to them by four and that game came right down to the wire. So I guess my point is that I don’t know of any team out there that we couldn’t compete with. And I’m writing all of the girls on the team these cards and one of the things I wrote is for them to not take anything for granted, because there are a whole lot of things that can happen that can impede success.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.