After nearly two decades, Shannon Werner steps down as Dallastown girls' volleyball coach

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
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Shannon Werner
  • Shannon Werner has stepped down as the Dallastown girls' volleyball head coach.
  • The former Penn State player and Dallastown graduate held the job for 18 years.
  • Her teams won York-Adams League championships in 2008 and 2019.

While many coaches get into the profession because of their children, Dallastown girls’ volleyball head coach Shannon Werner is doing the opposite.

A former standout at Dallastown during her high school career before playing at the highest level of the sport collegiately at Penn State, Werner came back to Dallastown in 2002 with one main goal: Help shape future generations of Wildcat players.

There's little doubt that she achieved that goal. Werner’s Wildcats were perennially one of the better teams in the York-Adams League over her 18-year run leading the program. Her teams won two Y-A League titles (2019, 2008) as well as one Division I title (2008).

One thing that Werner did not want to do, however, was coach her daughter, Erica, at the high school level.

That ultimately made the decision to step down recently a no-brainer.

“I just didn’t really want to coach her in high school,” Werner said. “I would just kind of rather be mom.”

Being mom, however, doesn’t mean Werner will be going too far away just yet. She’s still an assistant coach for Erica’s club volleyball team.

“She’s still playing club, and I’m helping to coach on her club team,” Werner said. “But to me that’s different than high school.”

Admired by coaching peers: That type of perspective, which flies in the face of the norm, is actually something that a few of her coaching peers admire.

“For her to be like: ‘I’m good just being mom’ I think is just really cool,” Delone Catholic coach Jason Leppo said. “And I think it speaks to the type of person she is and the type of mother that she is.”

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There’s no question that the Dallastown program will have a much different feel without Werner at the helm. Never one to shy away from speaking the truth, Werner rarely spoke in cliches. Her desire to win, however, was never in doubt.

“Dallastown has been really lucky to have a leader with coach Werner’s pedigree run their program for as long as she did,” York Catholic girls’ volleyball coach Phil Autrey said. “Shannon is super competitive, as all former Penn State women’s volleyball players are, but she’s also more concerned with developing her players than simply wins and losses.”

Leppo found it surprising that Werner and her Wildcats hadn’t won more than one division and two league titles during her coaching run.

“Dallastown was always there in the end,” Leppo said. “They were in counties every year, and they would always give whoever they were playing fits. And same in districts. They were always right there and gave themselves a chance year in and year out, and there’s nothing more that you can ask of a team as a coach than that.”

The 2019 title was a highlight: While there were many highlights over her nearly two-decade run atop the program, the run to the 2019 Y-A title is certainly tough to beat. Many picked Dallastown to to win the Division I title that year, but the Wildcats were unable to maintain a high level of consistency through the regular season.

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Come playoff time, however, Werner’s squad found its groove. The Wildcats put together back-to-back upsets versus state-ranked foes in downing defending PIAA Class 3-A state champ West York as well as perennial Division II contender York Suburban in the league quarterfinals and semifinals.

Dallastown then capped off a terrific three-day stretch by besting Division I champ Central York in the final.

“That whole week was just a Cinderella story,” Werner said. “We beat West York and then Suburban and then Central. And I remember against Central that we lost that first set 25-8 and I just thought to myself: ‘Hey guys, let’s just pack it in and go.’ I’m not sure that we even rotated a full turn where everyone got to serve in that first set.

“But the way they fought and came back … whoever took that picture in the paper of them celebrating, I have that on my desk, and I look at it every day and I just love that picture. You can just see the excitement on their faces. It was a really cool moment for us.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.