Schaefer inducted into Hazleton Hall of came
Back on jarch 2T, Bob Schaefer, SR, gathered his current and former players, coaches and other members of the Cheltenham girls’ basketball family and announced that he would be resigning from his position as the head coach of the girls’ basketball team.
Coaches step down from high school teams every year, but this time, it was a little different.
ft had been more than three decades since someone not named Bob Schaefer had coached a game for the Cheltenham girls’ basketball team. And TRT wins, two state titles E2MMM, 2MMTF, 11 state final four appearances, four aistrict 1 Class AAAA crowns and 24 Suburban lne League titles later, and Schaefer had stepped down as one of the greatest coaches to ever be in charge of a high school basketball team.
And as deserving as any coach could ever be, Schaefer, a West Hazleton native, will be inducted into the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of came this September, capping off a career that will most likely never be matched by any local high school basketball coach.
“ft was a surprise Eto be inductedF, but f was delighted and am very proud of it,” said Schaefer, whose final record sits at TRT-1SP. “The Hazleton area has a tradition of being very sports-minded and appreciative of athletes and coaches who have achieved and you don’t see a whole lot of that anymore. ft certainly came as a nice surprise for me.”
Schaefer said that he was notified by the committee immediately following his resignation at Cheltenham.
Although Schaefer began teaching in the Cheltenham Township School aistrict 44 years ago, in 19SU, he wasn’t always part of the Cheltenham family. Schaefer, after finishing a memorable basketball career at West Hazleton High School, graduated from Bloomsburg with a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education.
After moving to the Cheltenham area, he taught for 19 years throughout the district before joining Cheltenham in what would be a 1S-year tenure. He would go on to coach football, baseball, boys’ basketball, tennis, volleyball and wrestling at Cheltenham, before finding his niche in girls’ basketball in 19U1.
Schaefer stepped in as head coach of a program which had just lost RT of its previous SM games over the course of three seasons. Now, P1 years later, and Schaefer is one
of the most recognizable coaches of any sport in Pennsylvania.
“In 31 years, I’ve done more and I had accomplished more than I ever expected to,” Schaefer said. “I didn’t think I’d want to go there for another three years, because if I had done one more, I would’ve felt obligated to do all three because of the younger kids. I didn’t want to see them splitting up their high school careers.”
That was one thing about Schaefer. It was always about the players, not him.
“He was a fun guy and I think it was the work ethic that we brought to the program that made it so special,” Cheltenham assistant coach John Rogalski said.
The induction into the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Fame isn’t Schaefer’s first induction into a hall of fame. In November of 2004, he was selected for induction into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame, joining such coaches as Bobby Wine and Tommy Lasorda.
Schaefer was named the Pennsylvania State Coach of the Year in 1996 after leading the Lady Panthers to their first ever District 1 championship. The team would eventually go on and win state titles in 2000 and 2007, respectively, while earning Montgomery Publishing’s Coach of the Year Award in 2006 and 2007.
“He (Schaefer) has built the program from the ground up by recognizing the talent in the younger grades and developing the skills of those players,” said Cheltenham athletic director Scott Layer in a letter of recommendation he wrote for Schaefer back on June 14.
He continued: “…While his resume summarizes positive examples of his successes, it also shows how Bob has fostered leadership in the school community. It clearly starts with personal character. A strong believer in setting a positive example for others, he models with amazing consistency values of hard work, dedication, consistency, organization, punctuality and attendance. He has earned the respect of the studentathletes, parents and fellows coaches in the school, as well as around the Suburban One League, District 1 and in Pennsylvania.”
This past season, Schaefer led a senior-dominated team to yet another state playoff berth, where the team would advance to the elite 8 of the PIAA Class AAAA tournament. Though his team was knocked out before it could make it to another final four, an overall record of 26-4 and an overachieving season with a miracle win late in the year was enough to make Schaefer satisfied with the final chapter in his long and storied coaching career.
“They were certainly a surprise, overachieving team and we had some talent, but they went beyond that,” Schaefer said. “They were good kids who worked hard all season and they wanted to win. It was a pleasure to coach them and it was a nice year to go out.”
With many of his former players going on to play college basketball at a number of big-name college programs, Schaefer has helped so many athletes to make it to the next level. He coached Laura Harper, who eventually would win a National Championship at Maryland before playing in the WNBA, becoming the second player coached by Schaefer to play professional women’s basketball.
So where does the hall of fame induction rank with Schaefer’s other accomplishments?
“It’s hard to place things like that for me as a coach,” he said. “It’s up there pretty high, but you can look at all the kids who have played with the program and where they went and how they grew up and how successful there were in life. There are a lot of things I’m proud of, but it was a real pleasure coaching the players I did and working with the coaching staffs I did. It’s nice to see you’re appreciated, though.”
Schaefer will be inducted into the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 23, when the Class of 2012 inductees will be honored at a banquet at Genetti Ballrooms in Hazleton.
Upper Dublin players battle for a loose ball during preseason practice.