PG North: Schulz returns to coach Avonworth girls' basketball team
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As much as one person can mean to one program, Bob Schulz was the Avonworth basketball program.
A former starting point guard for the Antelopes in the early 1960s, Schulz went on to coach the Avonworth boys' and girls' teams for a combined 27 years before retiring in 2007.
Then, with the state of the girls' basketball program up in the air after Schulz's former assistant, Julie Moehring, resigned after last season, Schulz contemplated stepping in to ensure the program stayed in good hands. But before Schulz could do that he had to ensure that his health was in good standings.
"I was hesitant at first," Schulz admitted.
"I wanted to make sure my health was OK and now my health issues are much better. That was my main concern ... I wanted to make sure I was going to be able to do this."
A leukemia survivor who retired in 2007 because of health concerns, he checked with his doctors after hearing about the opening after the season ended. After being cleared by his doctors Schulz applied for the job days before the deadline.
After that process Schulz then had to interview for a job he had previously held for 12 years. It was an especially odd scenario for a man who had also served as the athletic director at Avonworth from 1985-2003.
That said, his hiring was approved by the school board in June and he is back in the saddle as the girls' team coach.
Schulz's affiliation with the Avonworth program started in 1962 when he was the starting point guard for the Antelopes. His time with Avonworth not only is impressive because of its longevity but also because of its success.
Once he started his coaching career at Avonworth as coach for the boys' team, he compiled a 185-145 record in 15 seasons. His triumphs with the girls' team were even more noteworthy. Schulz's teams went 271-55 over 12 seasons and the Antelopes won a WPIAL Class AA title in 2005.
Before health reasons forced his retirement, Schulz's teams were winning at an impressive pace. The Antelopes went 56-9 during his last three seasons.
In the meantime Schulz kept busy with three grandchildren running around plus he has a fourth on the way.
Even after his two years away from the program Schulz, who lives about 10 minutes away from Avonworth High School, kept tabs on his former players and former assistant Moehring who was the head coach.
"It was important for me personally to see my kids play and support my assistant who became the head coach," Schulz said.
"I wanted to make sure I was still a part of the program."
Along with wanting to get back into coaching and teaching basketball, another of Schulz's concerns was keeping the program he had been a part of for so long competitive.
"That was a concern of mine, I wanted to make sure it stayed in good hands," Schulz said. "We built a tradition there and wanted to keep that tradition the same way."
Wasting no time around this season, Schulz was able to be on hand for the last of his team's summer league games and get open gyms started. He is even familiar with most of the players after coaching them either at the high school level or in the seventh or eighth grade programs, which he also oversaw.
Two players -- senior Tara Gallupe and Molly Frew -- were freshmen during Schulz's last season at Avonworth. He has already named Gallupe and Frew captains for the upcoming season.
As a former player and current coach who exemplifies the Avonworth program, nobody is putting more pressure on the new head coach for the girls' team than Schulz himself.
"You do put pressure on yourself," he said. "We have standards we try to reach. We have done well over a number of years and we like to keep those standards very high."
First Published August 19, 2009 3:21 pm