Erica Piper's coaching career started early.
Piper was one year removed from her graduation at James Buchanan High School when she took over the JB junior high girls volleyball program in the spring of 1998. That fall, she was named the Rockets' varsity volleyball coach.
She was 17 years old.
"I'm grateful to (former JB athletic director) Dick Heckman for giving me a chance," said Piper, who turned in her resignation last week after 14 years of coaching. "I was going to go to college and play volleyball, but decided not to. It was weird because I was coaching girls that year who were my teammates a year before that."
She figured it out quickly.
Until this past fall, when JB was 7-11, Piper's teams had never had a losing record. In her 14 years, the Rockets compiled an overall record of 218-83, a winning percentage of .724.
n After a pair of 11-win seasons to begin her coaching stint, Piper's teams won at least 14 matches every year through 2010.
n The Rockets won four consecutive Mid Penn Capital Division titles (one shared with Greencastle-Antrim) from 2001-04.
n James Buchanan won 37 consecutive Capital matches from 2001-03.
Piper, who also coached the junior high team for 14 years, decided the time was right to make a change in her life.
"Right now, I'm in a different chapter in my life," she said. "My son Jayden is 4 and he's getting into sports. He's playing T-ball this summer and will probably play soccer
In addition, Piper is working toward a master's degree in special education. She's a special ed teacher at St. Thomas Elementary School and will be in the master's program at Shippensburg University.
"I didn't feel like I could give the commitment level to the program that it needs," Piper said. "Between the high school team and the junior high team and summer leagues, I feel like I was coaching all year-round.
"I will miss the kids and competitive aspect of it, and I might eventually get back into it. But I felt now was a good time to make a change."
Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EdGotwalsPO.