By Frank Rizzo
JEFFERSONVILLE April 24, 2001 A week in the sun and surf ought to do wonders for the body and spirit, and maybe help one work his way through a dilemma.
Ron Bernhardt thought that spending a week in Myrtle Beach would crystallize his thinking about his basketball coaching future.
After turning the Jeff-Youngsville girls program into one of the consistently best in the county over the past half decade, Bernhardt needs to decide if he wants to coach the combined Sullivan West girls basketball team next winter.
Due to a change in plans, the merger of the teams from Delaware Valley, Narrowsburg, and J-Y has been moved up from 2002-03 (when the new central high school is to be completed) to 2001-02.
I went away with the intent of figuring it out, said Bernhardt.
And the result?
Im still not sure, he said.
There are many reasons, a lot of negative things why I should not do it, but part of me wants to, Bernhardt said.
Hes got selfish, familial reasons to keep a hand in the coaching at the merged school youngest daughter Erin, a sixth grader, and niece Katie Fanning, in seventh grade, are both in the hoop pipeline at Jeff-Youngsville.
Weve laid the groundwork over the past five years, Bernhardt noted. This year we went 193 and lost only one senior.
By his calculations, there are about 10 or 11 starting players coming back from all three schools.
Some who played varsity for me this year will have to play jayvee, Bernhardt speculated. Others will be cut. I dont know
its going to be a major adjustment.
If he applies for the position and is accepted, Bernhardt noted, It will no doubt be the most talented girls team Ive ever coached. But thats not always a benefit. A lot of team success also depends on chemistry and getting along.
Since the central high school is yet to be built, he noted, the logistics of gym use and transporting players from the Narrowsburg and DV campuses to the J-Y campus will be problematical.
Im kind of torn about going for the position, Bernhardt summed up. Its a tough call. I dont know what to do.
Whats a Mann To Do?
Kevin Mann coached the Narrowsburg Lady Indians this past winter. It was his first varsity coaching job.
This unified team will be a tough thing, no matter who coaches, Mann said. Especially when youre dealing with cuts.
Mann is helping out Bernhardt and Liberty girls basketball coach Ted Crowley with a group of AAU girls basketball teams Bernhardt has helped organized.
Ive been to two practices with Ron and Ted and already learned so much, Mann praised. Ive heard a lot of good things about Ron, and if he continues coaching, I think the ideal thing for me would be to coach jayvee.
Mann noted he isnt a tenured teacher yet, and might be at a disadvantage when the time comes to pick a coach.
If Ron [Bernhardt] doesnt apply and the varsity position is open, Id probably go ahead like an idiot and go for it and bring trouble upon myself, Mann chuckled.
The Lady Indians were a young team, Mann said, with just one senior starter.
His starting point guard, Heather Lander, was in eighth grade. Team MVP Kim Jay, Melanie Buddenhagen, Heather Nober, and Katie Yacino starters at various times are all sophs.
In addition, Nadine McCarthy (along with Nober) is gaining off-season experience with the AAU program and Mann also has high hopes for her.
I feel bad about not having [the team] back, Mann said. It was a wonderful experience and theres nothing I wouldnt give to have the next two years back. I think we would have been a force.
Mann expresses some concern when his thoughts turn to next November and the start of basketball practice.
The scary thing is, some of [my] girls might not even go out for the team, he said. The feeling is, were not going to Sullivan West were going to Jeff, and its still their team.
Mann added, I had girls this year who saw significant playing time but who just couldnt play on a merged team.
Doing It For Her Girls
Over at Delaware Valley, Patty Roche completed her second straight season as head coach.
She said that if the merger hadnt been moved up, she would have been back.
I wouldnt have given [up coaching] until the high school was built, said Roche, pointing to the original merger plan regarding the athletic teams.
For Roche, the demands of two young children and varsity coaching weer taking a toll.
Its a long season and it takes a lot of your time, she said of coaching.
So she noted that she has no interest in coaching the combined team. Instead, she wants to get in on the ground floor helping out in the youth basketball program at Damascus (Pa.) Elementary, where her children attend.
Had she been coaching a DV team next season, Roches returning starters would have been Calley Sander, Megan Moran, and Jen Ackermann.
In what must have been an epiphany, Pattys daughter, Courteney, expressed to her mom a wish that DV would lose in the Class D quarterfinal against eventual champ Eldred back in February.
Then her mom would be home with her in the afternoons.