One and only coach: Kirk Crouse has been Chambersburg boys volleyball coach since the program began in 1997. He is resigning after leading the team to the
One and only coach: Kirk Crouse has been Chambersburg boys volleyball coach since the program began in 1997. He is resigning after leading the team to the state championship last spring. (Public Opinion file/Ryan Blackwell)
In the spring of 1997 Chambersburg unveiled its newest athletic team, boys volleyball, with Kirk Crouse as the coach.

In the spring of 2012, the Trojans captured the PIAA Class AAA volleyball championship, with Crouse still the coach.

Today, Chambersburg is searching for Crouse's replacement - he officially resigned from the position last week.

"He's been our only coach. To be able to start a program from scratch and take it to a state championship that's pretty impressive," CASHS athletic director Don Folmar said.

Crouse fully planned to be back for this season, but family issues intervened.

"I've always told the boys that family comes first," Crouse said, "and that's what I believe. Our daughter Olivia is almost 2 and my wife Becky is expecting our second in the next 10 days. I came into the school year thinking I'd be coaching again, but the more I started thinking about it the more I realized that I'd be missing just about everything for four months during the season and I just didn't think I could do that."

In his 16 years, Crouse's teams won or shared five Mid Penn division titles and had only two losing seasons.

Crouse said, "It's definitely been rewarding. It's true that success builds success, and the guys we've had and the staff I've had have helped build the program to where it is.

"The success of the teams in '97 and '98 directly led to what we were able to do last year. Those early teams set the bar high right out of the gate. And I hope this is just the start of it. We thought we could have won a state championship in 2002 and we did win last year. No reason the program can't continue to be successful."

In 2002, the Trojans fell in the PIAA semifinals to North Allegheny.

Last spring, Chambersburg lost three times to Central Dauphin - twice in league play and in the District 3-AAA final - although it beat the Rams twice in tournament play. But CD was upset 3-2 by Pennridge in the state semifinals and the Trojans went on to rally for a 3-2 victory over Pennridge in the championship match.

"That was just an awesome feeling," Crouse said. "It certainly doesn't get old to think about it. I was blessed to be a part of it and to have a group of such hard-working guys. It's humbling.

"And you have to realize that it takes a bit of luck to win states, too - a lot of things have to fall into place and you have to stay healthy and have depth. But I think more than anything, I just have this feeling of pride for those boys. They have to carry out what you've asked them to do and they made it happen."

Folmar said the position is open and anyone interested may apply. Until a coach is named, Crouse said he'd help out in any way he can.

"It's tough to walk away from it because I'm still really passionate about coaching," Crouse said. "I could even still be a volunteer coach if that works for whoever takes over. But I just can't commit to the time needed to be the head coach."

The Trojans lost five key seniors from last year's squad, but they have plenty back, including UCLA-bound Mitch Stahl, regarded as the nation's top recruit, libero Austin Frazer, middle hitter Keith Kegerreis, outside hitter Brent Rice and defensive specialist Reese Walton.

Crouse said, "There should be enough experience on the court to bring the new guys along. And Marta Hodge did an awesome job as the JV coach last year - those boys really improved and some of them will step right in."

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