ed note: Seth Buckwalter was recently named as the new head coach for Lancaster Mennonite. He has been part of the program since his playing days. He shares some of his thoughts with LLhoops.com. Enjoy.
1) The news of Coach Groff leaving coaching at LMHS surprised a lot of fans. When did you find out and what were your feelings at that time.
Coach Groff officially told the coaching staff on May 8th. After the season ended he told me that he was considering stepping away from coaching, so I was not surprised by the announcement. When he told us I felt a mixture of sadness that such a great coaching era was ending, but an excitement about the chance to try something new and challenging if I was given the opportunity to take the position.
2) You have been part of LMHS hoops for a long time- player/coach. What makes coaching and working at LMHS special to you?
I appreciate the ability to openly bring my Christian Faith into the experience of coaching and teaching. I love that I can pray with the guys before and after games, and discuss athletics from the view of using our God given gifts to honor Him. Secondly, I have developed a lot of connections in the LMH community over the years, so it is special to know that a lot of people that I know are watching and supporting the program. Finally, I feel like year after year we get top-notch guys playing on our team. Not just talented players, but young men that I enjoy being around and who have good character. I have the same experience in the classroom, and it makes it a great place to work.
3) You know the players well. What, if any, changes do you want to institute on your first team?
I played under coach Groff, and have only ever coached under coach Groff, so my view of the right way to play the game is similar. My personality is different than coach Groff’s, so a big part of the transition for myself and the players will involve learning how play for a coach with a different personality. I hope to maintain the same expectation of excellence that coach Groff always brought to the table, but have it fit who I am.
4) Next year an new 5 Section format for the LL. What are your thoughts on the format? Has LMHS had trouble getting non-league games?
I wasn’t a part of the decision making team on the new format, so all I can do is embrace the situation. I’m not sure if our athletic director has had difficulty with the scheduling.
5) Can you share a story or 2 about being a player/coach under Geoff Groff?
As a player, my fondest memory is winning the district title my senior year. I look back at it, and am amazed at the faith he had in his young players as that year went on. We ended up winning the game on foul shots made by a 10th grader who did not have much varsity experience, but Groff saw potential in him and was willing to play him in overtime of a district title game and he made the winning shot.
As a coach, I’ve simply been amazed at Geoff’s ability to assess what is going on in a game and speak to exactly what needs to be fixed. Time and time again, it seemed like the wheels were falling off in some game or another and it felt like we were doing everything wrong possible. Geoff would call a time-out, or halftime would come, and rather than talking about everything that was going wrong, he would pinpoint one or two things. He would communicate it to the guys and next thing you know we would be back in control of the game. I was always amazed at his insights in those moments.