Cowher steps down as Warriors’ coach

By on January 23, 2019
Gordy Cowher, who compiled a 23-11-2 record in two seasons as the Warwick boys head soccer coach, has stepped down. Lititz Record file photo

Gordy Cowher, who compiled a 23-11-2 record in two seasons as the Warwick boys head soccer coach, has stepped down. Lititz Record file photo

In mid-February, Gordy Cowher will be headed south for a nice getaway with his wife, Anne.

Their destination?

New Orleans, home to the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and the Garden District.

“We’ve never taken a trip during the school year,” said Cowher, a recently-retired Warwick High School math teacher. “There are things I feel I’m able to do that before I couldn’t do.”

For that reason, the 59-year-old Cowher has also stepped down as the Warrior boys soccer coach. He submitted his resignation to Athletic Director Ryan Landis in early January for Warwick school board approval. Applications for the postion will be accepted until Monday, Feb. 11.

In Cowher’s two years at the helm of the program, the Warwick boys were a combined 23-11-2, having won a share of the Section One title this fall before advancing to the L-L League playoff semi-finals and District Three 4A quarterfinals.

But at season’s end, Cowher gathered his thoughts and decided resigning was the right thing to do.

“A year ago, I was really exhausted at the end of the season and I took a week, two weeks and boy, I was ready to go,” he said. “This year, I spent a lot of time, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, writing things down, pros and cons, and when I started making that list, I was like, ‘If I have to make a list to justify me coming back, I don’t think that’s a good thing.’ In other words, my heart’s not in it.”

When the Cowhers’ youngest son, Connor, graduated from Warwick last June, they became empty-nesters. Connor is now attending Chapman University in Orange, Calif., while their daughter Kelsey, a 2016 Boston University grad, is residing in New England, and son Trey is located in Indonesia, where he is taking a course which will certify him to teach scuba.

As Gordy acknowledged, he and Anne are in a different phase of their lives.

“When I took the (Warwick soccer) job two years ago, I saw retirement as an opportunity to spend more time coaching, preparing and scouting. What happened this past fall is I saw it as an opportunity to go visit my kids, or go do this or go do that,” said Cowher, who also stepped away as a club coach and the LYSC’s boys director of coaching. “I see (retirement) as an opportunity to go do other things and I just saw soccer as something that might impede me or get in my way.”

In the big picture, Cowher knew it wouldn’t be fair to the players if he still tried to coach.

“What happened was my passion for coaching just kinda fell,” he said. “At this time last year, I was so excited about getting started with the kids, I couldn’t wait. I just didn’t have that passion and I just didn’t feel it was fair to the kids for me to stay on and coach if I didn’t have that same passion. They deserve to have somebody who’s all in. And I just don’t think I would be that right now.”

Cowher’s decision to take a step back from coaching will also allow him to spend more time with his father, Jack, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday in the coming days.

“He (formerly) lived in Tyrone, near State College, and it was hard to get up there on a regular basis every month, or every two months, to see him. Now that he’s around here,” Cowher said, “I’d like to have that opportunity to go pick him up and go for a car ride. or go to his room and just talk about life.”

Still, as he hangs up his coach’s whistle and clipboard, Cowher does so feeling good about the current state of the program. The Warriors have advanced to the post-season each of the past fours.

“I feel good about the staff that’s in place,” he said. “Matt Wagner knows the game and he’s passionate. He wants to continue what we’ve done the last few years,” Cowher said. “We’ve had a nice four-year run of getting the program back to where it was when Dale (Stoltzfus) was coaching. And Jackson (Corrigan) is young, dynamic and full of energy, and again, he knows the game. And our middle school staff is extremely knowledgeable. I just feel good about all the coaches that we have in place. I think they’re all knowledgeable, they understand kids and they’ll do right by the program.”

Since arriving in the Warwick School District in 1988, Cowher has done right by the program, not only as head coach for the past two seasons, but also as an assistant on-and-off while serving under Steve Hibshman, Daryl Groff, John Fellenbaum, Dale Stoltzfus, and Travis Steedle. He also was the head coach for the Warwick girls soccer team in the early 1990s when their program was first formed.

Cowher won’t say that he will never return to coaching. But at least for the near future, he is going to enjoy his trip to New Orleans and whatever else life holds in store for him.

“I don’t know what five years is going to bring,” he said. “If I knew the future, I’d be picking those Powerball numbers every weekend. So I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘I’ll never do this. I’ll never do that.’ What I want to do now is just kinda take things one day at a time, one week at a time and just see what it is I really want to do.”

 

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