Derr steps aside as Warwick girls’ coach

By on March 18, 2015
Amy Derr, shown here talking to her team during a timeout this sea¬son, has stepped down as the Warwick girls basketball coach. (File photo)

Amy Derr, shown here talking to her team during a timeout this season, has stepped down as the Warwick girls basketball coach. (File photo)

As Warwick girls basketball coach Amy Derr spoke at her team’s banquet on March 8, she knew deep down that her decision was made.
She just wasn’t divulging it yet.
“I wanted the banquet to be about the kids because that’s what it is about,” Derr said. “It’s about them. It wasn’t about me making a major announcement.”
It was actually the next day that Derr set the wheels in motion for major news affecting the Lady Warriors’ program. Just over a month after the WHS girls’ season ended, she met with Athletic Director Ryan Landis and submitted a letter of resignation, ending her five-year tenure as Warwick’s coach. Her resignation was accepted at Warwick’s school board meeting Tuesday night.
“It took a long time. I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time,” Derr said, “but I was contemplating it just because this year was so hard for my family.”
Hard and emotional, to be exact.
Chuck Derr, the brother of Amy’s husband, Randy, passed away on Dec. 13 from his battle with cancer. At the time, the Lady Warriors had started the season with a 3-1 record. But Chuck’s condition had been weighing heavily on the Derrs’ minds since receiving bad news about his chemotherapy in October.
Given the close-knit relationship of the two families, the news hit particularly hard. Chuck was the bone marrow donor for Randy, a cancer survivor for 15 years.
“Randy and him are obviously very, very close and even though (Chuck’s) family is from Ohio, we vacationed with them all these years,” Derr said. “The cousins are close … This is all happening right prior to the season, during the season and then the aftermath after. Really, I lost my mom and dad and now my brother-in-law all within like a five-year period.”
Amy and her daughter Rylee, a sophomore star for the Lady Warriors, missed the team’s game against Lebanon on Dec. 17 while traveling with family to Ohio for the funeral. Even after returning to Lititz, life wasn’t easy.
“I tried to mask it as well as I could during the season, but I was really struggling,” Derr said.
When the Warwick girls completed a season in which they finished 6-16, Amy sat down with Randy and her sister-in-law, Renee Derr, to discuss the future. Renee and her daughter Katie &tstr; who is graduating from Ohio University this spring &tstr; are currently preparing to move to Florida to be near family. And knowing the time commitment involved with coaching, including off-season responsibilities, and wanting to be available to offer support, Derr felt called to step aside.
“(Renee) just said to me, ‘Hey, do you want to go to Florida with me? Can you take a personal day or something? I guess I’m just to a point in my life where I’m ready to take that time when I need to, especially when it involves family,” said Derr, who finished 37-74 in five years as Warwick’s coach, including leading the Lady Warriors to the District Three Quad-A playoffs in 2012-13. “I’ll miss it, but I know that I’ll still be a part of it because I’ll still be going to all the games. I’ve coached my kids and I haven’t coached my kids, so I’ve been in both (situations). We’ll still be the supportive parents there watching our kids play &tstr; just in a different capacity. I’m not running the show anymore.”
Shortly after the season finale, Derr informed her players and coaches that she was contemplating an exit. While meeting with them last week, she made it official.
“I had told them that I’m really at a crossroads in my life right now,” Derr said. “I won’t lie. I was struggling. It’s very depressing when you lose someone close.”
Prior to resigning, Derr wanted to make sure that she scheduled open gyms and secured the facility for elementary camp over the summer. She is also willing to help in any way to make the transition a smooth one, not only with the staff now as they keep things running but when the new coach is hired.
“I didn’t want to let anybody down. Of course, you never want to let anybody down,” Derr said. “But I told the girls that it’s a personal decision. It’s nothing negative about them in any way, shape or form. It’s all about what I need to do in my life at this time.”
Coaching has been a big part of Derr’s life since graduating from college, where she played basketball. She coached hoops for the Lebanon junior high girls and softball in the WYGSA.
But at this point, she doesn’t foresee a return to the sidelines.
“I don’t think so,” said Derr, a social studies teacher at Warwick High School. “I always will want to be a great teacher and I’ll always love sports and I’ll always be behind the kids (Samantha, Madison and Rylee) and my kids’ friends. It’s just at a different level. Coaching is always that second full-time job during the season and I guess I’m ready to walk away from it. I’m ready to just enjoy my time with Rylee in the capacity of I’m still her mom and I’ll still be a fan of the game and I’ll still be there for the kids and supporting the parents club. The parents have been great over the years. I want to leave on good terms with the kids, with the staff, with everybody.”

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