Locker steps down as Warrior baseball coach

By on June 19, 2019

Will continue to lead the football team

In his seven years as the Warwick baseball team’s head coach, Bob Locker compiled an overall record of 104-51. Counting his years as an assistant coach, Locker spent 21 total years in the program. Lititz Record file photo

In his seven years as the Warwick baseball team’s head coach, Bob Locker compiled an overall record of 104-51. Counting his years as an assistant coach, Locker spent 21 total years in the program. Lititz Record file photo

 

It wasn’t a decision that Bob Locker took lightly.

Warwick’s two-sport head coach talked with others, trying to pick their brain.

The question was, how do you know when the time is right to step away?

Determining an answer wasn’t easy.

“I don’t know that there was going to be a magical thing that said, ‘Bob, it’s time.’ So I just figured I’m going to do this now,” Locker said.

What Locker did was submit his resignation to Athletic Director Ryan Landis as the Warriors’ head baseball coach following a seven-year run at the helm in which he compiled a record of 104-51.

He will continue as the Warwick football team’s boss, a position he has held since 2000.

“I feel blessed to have had the pleasure of (coaching baseball), which makes it so hard to say good-bye,” Locker said. “However, it’s become increasing difficult to find time to give sufficiently to lead two programs.”

When Matt Gale left as the Warriors’ head coach following the 2012 campaign, Locker didn’t initially apply for the job. But the schedules didn’t work for the candidates who interviewed, leading then-Athletic Director John Kosydar to approach Locker about the opening.

Locker, who had previously coached 14 seasons in the baseball program — as a JV coach and then four years as a varsity assistant for coach Mike Brown — had no timeline upon taking over for the 2013 season.

But he stayed true to his philosophy of analyzing his situation at the end of each season.

Even before Warwick took the field for their season opener this March against Governor Mifflin, Locker thought it was a “strong possibility” that he would return again next spring.

Things changed, however.

“It’s just that being a head coach seems to require more and more of your time for one sport,” said Locker, a sixth-grade teacher at Bonfield Elementary School. “I’ve tried very, very hard to do both jobs. I think it’s a reflection of a philosophy that Warwick School District has about multi-sport athletes. I think it was me trying to model that in terms of, ‘OK, we can find time to do more than one thing.’ But I’m having a harder time finding the energy required to do all things and still be an educator — which in the eyes of the district I am first and foremost, and that’s how it should be — and also to be a husband. I’ve been coaching two sports for 21 years all told.”

While serving on Brown’s staff, Locker helped the Warriors win their only District Three crown, thanks to a 7-1 win over Red Land in the 2008 championship.

“That was a real highlight,” Locker said. “We did not win a Section title or make Leagues, but figured things out and won a District title.”

They got close a couple of times to duplicating that feat with Locker as the head coach. The Warriors reached the District Three Quad-A semi-finals in 2015, before bowing 6-1 to Chambersburg, and in 2017, where they dropped a 4-2 setback to Governor Mifflin.

Warwick also took home the Section One crown in 2014 and reached the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff semi-finals the past two seasons. In all, the Warriors were 79-33 in league play during Locker’s tenure.

Locker, though, will still reflect on the “what ifs?”

“I wished we’d have won more,” he said. “I think we did some things well. I don’t feel I’m leaving the program in bad shape in any way at all. I’d have liked to have won more things. We only had one section title during that time. No league title … I stand by what we did, though. I thought we’ve been successful. We’d always like to be more successful.”

In both 2015 and 2017, Warwick was just one win away from advancing to States. Both times, the Warriors fell in a PIAA qualifier, first dropping a 9-3 loss to Governor Mifflin and then a 1-0 nail-biter to Section rival Penn Manor in a battle of aces.

“The more heartbreaking one in some ways was (Zach) Peters’ senior season. We lost in the (District) semi-finals and still had a chance to go to states and lost 1-0 to Penn Manor on a one-hitter,” Locker recalled. “(Comet ace) Jeff Taylor hit a home run on the only hit they had all day. That one hurt a lot because, again, I’ve had a lot of great groups of kids, but that one, we gave up one hit.”

That, however, is in the past.

Looking ahead, with Bob and his wife, Marlene, now being empty-nesters, he plans to spend more time at home. Of course, he will still coach football and have his off-season responsibilities in that sport, whether in the weight room or elsewhere.

That isn’t to say he won’t miss coaching baseball.

“I have had a chance to coach some fantastic young men and that’s something I truly have loved and I’m going to cherish,” Locker said.

Yet, he knows that this is the right time to step away from the diamond.

Asked when he began to notice that coaching two sports was a lot to handle, Locker said, “I couldn’t really pinpoint it the last couple of years. People can question how I allocated my time. That’s one of the beauties of life. People can always question what you choose to do. There were days when I would run from one thing to the next and think like, ‘OK, should I spend a little more time there? Did I get to this on time?’ And I’ll say this again, I think I did my job. And I stand by what I did. I don’t want to find out I stayed too long and I don’t think I’ve stayed too long. I don’t think that at all.”

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