Sooner or later, time was going to catch up with Shane Harper.
His challenges had been daunting.
Harper was a successful longtime high school boys' lacrosse head coach at York Catholic High School. He juggled that while raising a growing family with four young children.
It certainly wasn't easy.
Eventually, something had to give.
In the end, family won out. Harper notified the school of his decision to resign from his York Catholic position last month.
"It wasn't a surprise to me," said Harper, who led the Irish to two York-Adams League boys' lacrosse titles (2016, 2018) as well as the PIAA Class 2-A semifinals in 2018. "But it wasn't a planned exit either."
Counting his time with the Shooting Stars club team, Harper has 14 years of coaching experience in lacrosse.
Family considerations: Harper's decision had nothing to do with the kids in the York Catholic program who he has grown to love. Instead, he's planning on taking his coaching ability to a much younger level.
"My son, Christian, wants to start playing lacrosse this year and I wanted to be there to help him," Harper said. "So it's not like I'm leaving coaching, but it will just be a different age level."
Christian, who is now 6 years old, has shown quite a knack for the sport already. Coach Harper marveled at the remarkable skills that his son has already demonstrated, namely his ability to be on the run, scoop up the ball and then shoot it with little difficulty.
"I have friends that see him do that and ask me if that's good," he said with a smile. "And I said, 'heck yeah.' I mean I have high schoolers that can't do that yet."
Tough decision: Being two places at once, however, is not a skill that Harper possesses. So ultimately it came down to a decision between two things he loves almost equally — his YC program and his son.
"After the season, Christian kept telling me that he wanted to play lacrosse," Harper said. "And it all came down to the fact that I can't be a part of his team as well as a part of the York Catholic team. So, after giving it some thought, I knew that this was going to be it for me."
Perhaps the most ironic part of Harper's decision is that it will require a serious change of colors from his typical green and gold. A graduate of York Catholic and the head coach of the Fighting Irish since its second year of existence, Harper will coach his son in the Central York youth program.
Central, of course, is the team that knocked off an unbeaten Irish team in last year's Y-A title match. The Panthers are also one of York Catholic's biggest lacrosse rivals.
"Yeah, I'm going to be converting to the dark side," Harper said with a big laugh. "So my kids all are in the Central school district."
Harper's resignation comes at arguably the pinnacle of boys' lacrosse success in York Catholic's history. His final Irish team finished 18-3 and won the York-Adams League regular-season title and finished third in the District 3 Class 2-A playoffs. Over the past four years, the Irish have gone a combined 67-19.
After spending many years helping to build the program into the perennial contender that it has become, the Irish will have to find a replacement for arguably the most successful coach in the league in recent seasons.
"It was a lot of fun," Harper said of his time as head coach at YC. "And I have no regrets doing it."
Applications being accepted: With Harper's resignation, York Catholic is accepting applications for the boys' lacrosse head coaching job. The school is looking for applicants with previous experience coaching at the high school level.
Interested candidates should submit a non-teaching application, resume and cover letter to principal Katie Seufert at York Cattholic High School, 601 E Springettsbury Ave., York Pa., 17403, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are required no later than Oct. 7. Recent clearances are required as a condition of being hired. More details can be found at yorkcatholic.org.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.