When Dave Wickenheiser was hired as York Suburban's head track-and-field coach, he became the program's third head coach in four years.
That was in 1987.
The school hasn't had to go on a coaching search again until this year, when Wickenheiser stepped down after 31 seasons as head coach and three years as an assistant coach. He also retired from his mathematics teaching position at York Suburban after a 35-year career.
"Some of the kids who were juniors (in the track-and-field program) this past year were saying one more year," Wickenheiser said. "Some of the kids who were sophomores were saying two more years and some of the freshmen were saying three more years. But, I always felt that in the long run it's better if the head coach is also a teacher."
Wickenheiser had a fantastic run during three-plus decades with the Trojans.
His teams (boys and girls) won numerous York-Adams titles, and one of his girls' teams finished second in the state. In addition, his boys' program won 55 dual meets in a row during a period in the 1990s. Suburban athletes also captured individual honors at the league and district meets and two athletes, Jon Martin (high jump) and Lisa Nagorny, (1,600 run), won state titles.
Wickenheiser cherishes all those special moments, but he also recalls fondly the time spent with the athletes at practices and traveling to and from meets.
"The most rewarding part was the opportunity to work with so many different kids throughout the years outside the classroom," he said. "I had the opportunity to get to know the kids a lot better. I' know I'm going to miss it (coaching) a lot."
Wickenheiser surprised himself by coaching as long as he did.
"I never expected to be there 34 years. I loved it," he said. "I have to thank my wife greatly because coaching takes a lot of time away from home."
Wickenheiser retired as a coach, but he isn't walking away from track and field entirely.
He plans to become a meet official. In addition, Wickenheiser will be the meet director for the Herb Schmidt Relays, which take place at York Suburban every spring.
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.