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Stoltzfus steps down as Warwick boys coach Led Warriors to 2005 State title
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
In 36 combined seasons coaching boys and girls soccer, Dale Stoltzfus has proven himself to be a winner.
His 477 wins and .660 winning percentage in 723 total games, along with State championships with the Warwick boys and Lancaster Mennonite girls, are proof of that.
Under his watch just at Warwick, the Warriors captured the 2005 PIAA State Triple-A championship, one District crown, one Lancaster-Lebanon League championship and two Section One titles.
One of the things that Warwick Athletic Director John Kosydar always appreciated about Stoltzfus was his focus on winning with integrity.
"(Dale) wanted the kids to have success, but he wanted them to have success in the right way," Kosydar said. "We were pretty respected in the League for the way we played."
That will be part of the legacy left behind by Stoltzfus, who resigned from his position last week after compiling a 176-84-18 overall record with the Warriors. He submitted his letter of resignation to Kosydar last Wednesday, April 18, then informed the players of his decision in a Friday meeting.
It was a decision that Stoltzfus didn’t reach easily. In the end, the long-time coach cited personal reasons for stepping down.
"It was a real tough decision to come to," Stoltzfus said, "but I think definitely for my own health and for family reasons … the amount of energy that I demand on myself during the coaching season and where my health’s at, I think it was time for someone else to do it."
Prior to taking the Warwick post in 1999, Stoltzfus coached soccer at Elkhart Central High School in Indiana, where he compiled a 188-66-27 mark in 15 seasons with the boys program and an 31-25-3 record in four seasons with the girls program. He also was the Lancaster Mennonite girls head coach for four seasons from 2008-11, finishing with an 82-17-4 record while leading the Lady Blazers to the PIAA Double-A Spring title in 2008 and a runner-up finish in 2009. Knowing that District Three girls soccer was moving to the fall in 2012, he stepped away at LMH in May 2011 to give the Lady Blazers time to find a replacement.
Stoltzfus acknowledged that he had hoped to make a decision by February about the Warwick boys job, and there were a lot of days that he felt confident about returning. Other days were different, though, and that is what ultimately led to the tough decision.
"I had been thinking about it since the new year — I had kinda wanted my decision to be made by February so it would give more time for them to hire somebody," Stoltzfus said. "It’s one of those things that because of how long it took, I’m a little frustrated in myself that I couldn’t make the decision quicker. But there were times in February and March and even the beginning of April, there’d be some days where I was 95 percent sure I was returning. Then the next day, it was back to 50 (percent). So I really struggled with a lot of the discernment and trying to (get through) the decision-making process with it."
Stoltzfus left no doubt that he will miss not being on the sidelines this fall.
"I obviously always loved coaching, loved starting a season and trying to get teams to peak at the end of the year," he said. "It was a very difficult decision. I just have a passion for coaching. I enjoy it and I enjoy the challenge of taking 40 players at the beginning of the year in the varsity and JV and getting them to work together is not easy. (I enjoy) working with each year’s group of seniors trying to develop leadership within young kids and expectations and trying to get them to help along with the success of the team."
The Warriors certainly enjoyed a lot of success with Stoltzfus at the helm for 13 years. One of their best seasons, of course, was their run to the State title in 2005.
Asked if that was his most memorable season at Warwick, Stoltzfus said, "Probably, just because of the excitement and everything that happened along with it. Great group of kids. Obviously when you have more success like that and winning some of those games, it was a lot of fun. I think what was fun with the State team was how much the school and community got behind us as it continued to grow and grow, and the amount of people that showed up in Hershey was special both times with LMH and with Warwick."
But Warwick’s skipper had a lot of fun other years as well. The Warriors advanced to the League finals four times under Stoltzfus — in 2000, 2008, 2010 and 2011 — before winning their first-ever L-L crown last fall with a 1-0 win over Section One rival Hempfield.
"That was fun to see some of the smiles on the faces of those first couple of teams that I coached and getting to the Lancaster-Lebanon League finals three or four times and finally winning it last year," Stoltzfus said.
He also got the opportunity to coach All-American Andrew Wenger, who is now playing professionally in MLS with the Montreal Impact, and he led his teams into the District Three Triple-A playoffs in 10 of his 13 years at Warwick, including three straight trips to the District semi-finals from 2003-05, culminating with a championship in 2005. Remarkably, in his 36 seasons of coaching, he has had only one losing record.
"There were a lot of special teams," said Stoltzfus, who became the first coach in Lancaster County history to lead both a boys and girls soccer team to a State title.
Kosydar said his goal is to have a new coach recommended to the Warwick school board by its June meeting. He is also looking for a new girls soccer coach, with long-time Lady Warriors’ coach Mike Logan having given his resignation just a couple of weeks earlier.
For Stoltzfus, although the 2012 season will be the first time in many years that he is not molding a team for a playoff run, he is not ruling out a return to the coaching ranks at some point down the road.
"It depends on where my health goes and working through some various things," Stoltzfus said. "That would be something that might happen." More STOLTZFUS, page B-6