Derr welcomed into L-L League Hall

By on June 12, 2019
Warwick field hockey coach Bob Derr, who earned his 600th career win last September, discusses strategy with his players during a timeout. He was inducted into the L-L Hall of Fame on April 28. Lititz Record file photo

Warwick field hockey coach Bob Derr, who earned his 600th career win last September, discusses strategy with his players during a timeout. He was inducted into the L-L Hall of Fame on April 28. Lititz Record file photo

When Lititz’s Bob Derr got a phone call from Lampeter-Strasburg administrator Greg Fantazzi this winter, he thought it was related to a wrestling question.

Fantazzi has been a PIAA wrestling official for 23 years and Derr is currently the District Three Wrestling Interpreter and the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s assignor of referees.

“I was looking for referees for a particular tournament because I had sent out an all-points bulletin,” Derr recalled.

That, however, wasn’t why Fantazzi was calling.

Rather, it was to inform Derr that he was selected to be inducted into the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s 2019 Hall of Fame Class.

“(Greg) started talking about the L-L Hall of Fame,” Derr said, “and I’m going, ‘Well, what are you talking about that for?,’ and then he said, ‘You’re going in.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s fantastic.’ That was pretty neat.”

Derr and the other four inductees — Andy Amway, Richard Balderston, Joseph Geesey, and Audrey Stoner — were honored during a banquet at the Fireside Tavern in Strasburg on April 28.

“The nice thing I like is it’s not just athletics. It’s multiple things that people are involved in, having given a lot to the L-L League,” Derr said, “and it’s nice to be recognized for a long time of coaching and officiating.”

Long time is an understatement.

Long-time wrestling official and Warwick field hockey coach Bob Derr was one of five honorees who were inducted into the Lancaster-Lebanon League Hall of Fame on April 28.

Long-time wrestling official and Warwick field hockey coach Bob Derr was one of five honorees who were inducted into the Lancaster-Lebanon League Hall of Fame on April 28.

Between his work as Warwick’s legendary field hockey coach and a wrestling official, Derr has invested a combined 87 years of service.

His career in field hockey started when Sandy Moyer asked him to coach the Warriors’ junior high team for the final 10 days of the 1979 season.

“If it wouldn’t have been for (Sandy) saying something to me … she was very convincing,” Derr laughed. “I thought, ‘OK, what can it hurt? Me coaching field hockey for 10 days and I’m getting paid for it? What the heck, I can do that.’ I fell in love with it after 10 days. The girls were fantastic.”

In 1983, Derr took over as Warwick’s head varsity coach and the rest is history.

In fact, last September — in his 36th season as the Warriors’ boss — he collected his 600th career victory in a 1-0 OT win over Conestoga Valley.

Along the way, Derr has led the Warriors to three PIAA State crowns, 11 L-L League golds, and six District Three championships. He is currently sitting with 605 career victories.

This October, Derr will celebrate his 70th birthday and he got a reminder recently at his Warwick Junior Field Hockey Camp to just how long he has been in the coaching business. One of his former players, Paige Laytos, pointed out to him that he is now coaching a third-generation player in 3-year-old Sawyer, daughter of Shannon Mearig and grand-daughter of Tracey Mearig.

“Paige said to me, ‘Coach, it’s three generations,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m getting old, I’ve been around a long time. Holy Mackerel,’” laughed Derr, who has also been inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2011), having sent about 150 players onto the college ranks.

In 2014, Derr was also inducted into Warwick’s first-ever Athletic Hall of Fame Class.

It’s not just in the sport of field hockey where Derr has reached iconic status, however.

He got his career started as a wrestling official in 1972, the same year he graduated from West Chester University. During his time with the Rams, Derr had officiated some intramural matches.

“My wrestling coach at West Chester, Dale Bonsall, said to me, ‘You ought to referee in high school. They need referees,’” Derr, a 1968 Warwick grad, recalled. “And I said, ‘OK, I’ll look into that.’ So he connected me with what at that time was the Lancaster Chapter of Wrestling Officials.”

From refereeing five JV matches in his first year, that quickly ballooned.

“It changed within a short period of time and I was traveling all over — all over District Three refereeing everywhere,” said Derr, who also coached the Warriors junior high team to a record of 88-8, including six straight Elizabethtown Optimist Tournament championships.

Eventually, he went on to officiate roughly 40 Sectional and District Three Championships, five PIAA Individual Tournaments and two State Team Championships.

But that’s not all.

Derr also worked at 13 NCAA Division-One Championships, including the 2011 tournament at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, when Derr officiated the 125-pound finals, in which Arizona State’s Anthony Robles defeated Iowa’s Matt McDonough 7-1.

His honors in wrestling include being named to the District Three and Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Halls of Fame, and the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame (2009). Derr also received the Lancaster Sportswriters and Broadcasters’ George W. Kirchner Award in 2010.

The fact that he was inducted into the L-L Hall of Fame with his friend Geesey, who passed in 2018, added to Derr’s special night.

“It’s pretty neat. I was definitely surprised, at the same time honored,” Derr said. “There’s a lot of good people in there, just like any Hall of Fame. It was a nice banquet too.”

And he received a nice gift to go with it too — a lifetime pass for any L-L League athletic event.

“I thought, ‘Boy, this is great. I get to see anything,’” Derr said. “I’ve just got to find the time.”

 

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