Successful York-Adams girls' basketball head coach steps down

West York Head Coach James Kunkle during PIAA Class 5-A girl's basketball quarterfinal action against Mechanicsburg at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. Mechanicsburg would win the game 45-33. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Sometimes, even the best-laid plans can get sidetracked.

Such was the case with West York High School girls’ basketball head coach James Kunkle.

When Kunkle joined the Bulldogs program five years ago, he envisioned himself being there for at least a decade.

“I joked with (former West York coach) Jon Shultz that I was going to break his record,” Kunkle said in reference to Shultz’s nine-year run. That included the only time in program history that that the girls’ basketball team had advanced to the state quarterfinals – to that point. Kunkle’s final team at West York also made the state quarterfinals in Class 5-A, finishing with an overall record of 18-10.

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Kunkle, however, only got halfway to his goal. He recently notified the athletic department and his assistant coaches at West York of his plan to step down. Kunkle didn't give a specific reason for his decision.

While Kunkle didn’t originally intend for this past season to be his last, he was nonetheless satisfied with his overall tenure at West York.

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“Alaina Harris’ senior year was a memorable one,” Kunkle said of his 2019-2020 team that finished 21-7. “That was the year before COVID when we won the division and got the team in counties and played in the District 3 semifinals. And this year with our state run to make it to the quarterfinals and making counties was fun.”

For Kunkle, his time at West York was more than just about the wins (69) and losses (51) he shared with his players and coaches.

“We did a ton of other things, too,” he said. “We had our Down Syndrome Awareness games where we brought attention to that. Then there was the Coaches vs. Cancer games and the Bulldog pantry, where anyone would get free admission if they would supply food to help our school. So, I think we did a lot to try to help the community.”

Kunkle’s decision to step away isn’t necessarily a signal that he plans to move on from coaching. He didn’t entirely shoot down the possibility of him returning to the sideline in the future.

“Who knows?” is all that Kunkle would say.

Other stops: In addition to his run at the helm of the West York girls’ program, Kunkle was the head coach of the girls’ team at York Country Day from 2003-2011. He was an assistant for the Central York boys’ program in 2011-2012 before spending another two years as an assistant under Shultz with the West York girls from 2012-2014.

Kunkle was also the head coach at New Oxford from 2015-2017, where he led the Colonials to the York-Adams League title game in 2017 as well as the school’s first-ever state playoff victory.

In total, Kunkle has won 160 career games at the varsity level between his stints at YCD, New Oxford and West York.

Kunkle becomes the latest high-profile girls’ basketball to announce his resignation this offseason. Spring Grove head coach Troy Sowers announced earlier that he was resigning.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at or on Twitter at @ydsports.