New man: Chambersburg’s new boys basketball coach, Beau Gantz, talks to his team at a practice this week.
New man: Chambersburg's new boys basketball coach, Beau Gantz, talks to his team at a practice this week. (Public Opinion/Ryan Blackwell)
Chambersburg has two new basketball head coaches for this winter season.

The circumstances surrounding each are about as different as could be.

Boys coach Beau Gantz has previous head coaching experience, with Elizabethtown and Harrisburg. But it's been 19 years since he coached the Cougars, with the time in between taken up by school administrative duties then retirement.

Girls coach Jen Schmutzler is a first-time head varsity coach.

Gantz was hired from outside the school district.

Schmutzler is a former Trojan player and has been an assistant coach in the program for several years.

Gantz is replacing a highly successful predecessor in Shawn Shreffler, who was let go in a controversial move in April after 15 years, with 241 wins and a pair of District 3 titles.

Schmutzler replaces Anthony Rose, who managed just 18 wins in his three seasons.

The Chambersburg boys are a regular top-echelon team in the Mid Penn Commonwealth Division and qualify for the playoffs nearly every year.

For years, the Trojan girls have been mired near the bottom of the Commonwealth and last reached the playoffs in 2007.

The boys return the core of the team that won a District 3 Class AAAA championship last year and Gantz has apparently been able to find some role players he thinks will blossom this season. He is expecting big things.

The girls lost a couple of starters to graduation, and three others who were regularly in the rotation chose not to come out this season.

This is why Gantz said this week, "You could say I fell into a great situation here.


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It's a great group of kids to work with and there is a lot of talent."

And why Schmutzler said, "With a new coach and a new system, it's been tough. We're trying to build here. The girls are working hard and buying into what we're teaching them, but we have a lot of work to get done to get where we want to be."

It's a pretty big contrast.

Gantz is not concerned about his time away from coaching.

"It's like riding a bike," he said. "But it's more than relating to kids and X's and O's - it's the red tape that's a problem.

Trying to build: Jenny Schmutzler, the new Chambersburg girls basketball coach, gives her team instructions during a scrimmage Wednesday.
Trying to build: Jenny Schmutzler, the new Chambersburg girls basketball coach, gives her team instructions during a scrimmage Wednesday. (Public Opinion/Ryan Blackwell)
I thought when I retired I was done with paperwork, but now it's much worse than it used to be. Heck, I have to have two clipboards - one for work (roster, plays, etc.) and one for the paperwork."

The new coach was able to run the program this summer and he likes what he sees.

"I got to know some of the young kids and we have some good talent coming up," Gantz said. "In the lower grades we have about seven kids who are already 6-2. Both of the two ninth-grade teams (CAMS North and CAMS South each have teams this year) had 42 players try out. We have a freshman on the varsity team.

"The booster club has been fantastic - they've been able to do a lot for us so far and it's allowed me to get on the court right away instead of worrying about all the little things. And the parents are really behind the program."

And then there is the big elephant in the room: the specter of Shreffler's firing last spring. So far the only tangible evidence of fallout from that is that at least one player decided not to come out.

"No one has approached me with anything negative," Gantz said. "I've removed myself from that equation. The only disappointing thing is that you have kids who decided to give up their high school career and may never play organized basketball again. You only go through high school once. I would have liked to see them come out."

And that's that. The page has been turned.

And potentially big things are on the horizon.

Gantz said, "I feel we should be near the top in the league, even though because we're defending district champions, people will be coming after us. Barring injury, we should be there at the end. Every team starts out wanting to win a state championship."

Schmutzler's goals are clearly not at that level yet. Nor should they be. As the saying goes, you have to walk before you run and the Trojan girls are not running yet - other than wind sprints and fast breaks in practice.

The new coach was not officially named the head coach until early August, but she did what she could in the summer - holding open gyms, putting a team in a league and going to a team camp.

"I was just filling in because I didn't want the program to suffer," said Schmutzler, who was a seventh-grade coach at the time. "We didn't get to put in any of the offense or anything else, but at least we did get to play some basketball."

Schmutzler admits some of those sessions were a little daunting, and perhaps that might be a reason why some players chose not to come out.

"You've got to be tough if you want to get where you want to go," she said.

What Chambersburg has is some very athletic players, a couple of third-year starters, an intriguing newcomer who has potential at point guard and some girls with decent size inside.

"We have about three or four girls who are 5-10, 5-11," Schmutzler said. "But they don't have varsity experience. Playing JV in the paint is a lot different than playing varsity in the paint."

So the Trojan teams will start the season on Friday at the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament in Waynesboro with very different expectations. One expects to hit the ground running and keep going up from there. The other is hoping to find some traction as the season goes on and make some positive steps.

Should be interesting.

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Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and egotwals@publicopinionnews.com.