Interview with Chris Sherwood,

Manhiem Central HS

ed note: re-introduces Chris Sherwood, head coach at Manhiem Central HS. Chris is in his second stint at MC. He is always willing to talk re hoops-- a bit old school:) His "coaching tree" is fasinating.

MC's recent success inclues:

PIAA Tournament 2014, 2015, 2017
District 3 playoffs 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017


1) How was it like coaching a D1 player - Tayler Funk? How did you/he handle recruiting?
Well first and foremost Taylor was a really easy young man to coach. He looked you in the eye when you spoke to him, he wanted to learn, he was excited to be at practice every day, and he was a great teammate. In addition to this, he was super with the kids in the community. The recruiting process took off early for Taylor. As a sophomore Taylor had already had 2 state tournament appearances, he had been a part of some really good teams, and we had college coaches in our open gyms regularly. Taylor instantly felt comfortable with St. Joe’s and the coaching staff. The process was over before the end of his junior year. There was a stretch last spring where I was getting about 6-8 phone calls a week from various coaches around the country. The moment he verbally committed those phone calls stopped. I think Taylor made a great decision and we look forward to following him the next 4 years on Hawkhill.

2) MC has had a lot of success recently. What steps have you taken to move the program forward?

As a coach at a public school, all we can do is coach the kids in our district. Therefore we have to develop relationships with the kids early so they stay interested in basketball throughout their MC years. As a middle school teacher this is something I try to do.

In addition, I think it is important to understand that the former players, and their ability to play this game, is what helps build a successful program. Because of our recent success, we have a huge bubble stretching from 5th grade to 8th grade, of players who are skilled and interested in getting better. These are young players that have watched several games in the Giant Center and watched PIAA games of recent teams. These young people have developed connections with current and former players, like Taylor Funk. It is because of the former players that this program has had success and we see success moving forward.

There are coaches all over this league working hard and doing what is right for their program. Building a program can’t be gauged on wins/losses. We win because we have good players. I have been fortunate to coach some really good players around here.

3) How do you as a coach approach the season? For example, the last few years your team has been a district and a PIAA type of team. Do you change your approach at all or do you adjust each season?
Each year we take the same general approach. Our philosophy over the last handful of seasons was to play a bunch of underclassman one year and then the following year you will have everyone (or almost everyone) back. The first year of this cycle we do a lot more learning on the job and the second year we focus much more on execution.

This year in January we had a stretch where we played 8 games in 11 days. This was a rough stretch and ultimately impacted us for at least a week after it had ended. Our guys were exhausted. We normally begin to scale back practices by mid-January. This couldn’t happen this year because of the prep we had to do for so many games. Then after the league play-off loss to Hempfield we probably had the most intense week of practice we had all season heading to district play-offs… showed because we may have played our two best games vs. Waynesboro and at Spring Grove that next week.

4) Has the game changed since you first started at MC as a head coach?

This is an interesting question, but truthfully I don’t think it has changed that much. I think our league has changed a little. I feel the physicality of the game increases every year. Also, I can remember thinking that I was one of the only guys that really played a lot of zone when I first started at MC. I see more and more zone in our league.

5) I find your "coaching tree" interesting...Can you give us your background in coaching and your influences?
The Coaching Tree is interesting. I began as a Middle School Coach on Mike Gaffey’s staff when he was the head coach at Palmyra. That original staff had Mike Gaffey (head coach at Bishop McDevitt), Scott Pera (head coach at Rice University), Todd McCall (former head coach at Northern York and Susquehanna), and Jay Shorey (former head coach at Northern York and current head coach at Newport). That was a heck of a staff for a young guy to break in with. As years passed on I became the JV coach at Palmyra and one of the assistants became Chris Sattele; one of my best friends and current head coach at Middletown High School. In the middle of my career I went to Penn State Harrisburg, again with Mike Gaffey. One of the assistant coaches was Gary Martin (former Greencastle head coach and current Susquehanna head coach).

I have also been fortunate to have great assistants. Charlie Fisher was an amazing assistant and now a great head coach at Ephrata. In addition, my staff has Vince Quinn, Mark Silcox, and Tom McCabe. Think of the experience they have and the head coaches they have worked with through the years.

Coach Gaffey remains my biggest influence. There are some things I learned from Coach G that I just won’t change. He believed in playing guys in foul trouble. He was not going to lose a game because someone was on the bench that shouldn’t be….games are only 32 minutes long. In addition, use your timeouts when you need to. They aren’t worth saving for the end of the game if you are down 10. I remember playing West York in the District Quarterfinals in 2014. We used 3 timeouts in the first quarter and 4 total in the first half. We did everything we could to stop West York’s runs and make changes. By the end of the game we were in it and eventually won. I’m convinced Coach Gaffey won that game for us that day. He believed in making the corrections, changes, stop the opponent run, immediately. If you watch Ephrata, you can see Coach Fisher has taken on that same characteristic….I guess that is the workings of a coaching tree.

Other influences come from coaches that I watch, respect, and can call friends. Manheim Central, Lebanon, and Palmyra have run a 3 day joint high school camp for the last 3 summers. I try to learn from being around Pete Conrad (Palmyra Head Coach) and Tim Speraw (Lebanon Head Coach). Both do incredible jobs with their teams and programs, so any little thing I can steal I do.

Bonus: If you could change anything in the HS game what would it be?

I would change the football season. Football should be playing their first game in August. The state championships should be over Thanksgiving break. MC historically has an excellent football team and we thankfully share athletes. I love that about this place. We do not play in a tip-off tournament in case our football players will be playing in a state championship game. In addition, we then need the Christmas break to practice with our guys that missed the pre-season. We are now jamming 22 games in a 7 week window. We could play less games…..we could schedule a tip-off…..or a Christmas tournament…..OR we could just play football in August. I would take a closer look, everyone is playing football in August anyway.

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