The faces of Franklin and Fulton county spring sports may look a lot different this year thanks to a myriad of coaching changes in the offseason.
More than half of the area softball teams have new head coaches, while four baseball teams and a girls spring soccer team all welcome new coaches to the programs. But it's not all new blood on the field, with eight of the area's 11 new head coaches either returning to an alma mater or taking over a team they've helped groom as assistants.
Chambersburg baseball coach Scott Folmar returns to his former stomping grounds to follow Bob Thomas' 51-year career with the Trojans.
Mercersburg baseball will also see a big change after saying goodbye to its head coach of 25 years, Karl Reisner, last season. The Blue Storm welcomed John Lowery Jr., a coach certainly not unfamiliar to the game, or the pressures of filling large shoes.
Lowery Jr. is the son of John Lowery Sr., the head baseball coach at Jefferson High School in West Virginia for the last 47 years, who currently holds the title of third-most winningest baseball coach in the country with more than 1,200 victories.
"There’s no question that people are going to watch to see how it goes, but it’s not like I’m 22 years old and talking over," said Lowery Jr., who has a long-tenured coaching career himself that includes assistant coaching positions at the University of Michigan and Ball State. "I do think I have a very good baseball background. I’ve watched my father and I want to blend all the good things that coach Reisner has done, what my father has done at Jefferson, and what I’ve done, and make a good coaching philosophy."
James Buchanan's Troy Pittman, Melissa Mackel, Southern Fulton's new woman at the helm, and Forbes Road's Pete Hall have all moved from assistants to head coaches of their respective softball programs, and hope to continue growing their programs in the direction set in place by former coaches.
"It was a really positive experience helping coach last year," Mackel said. "I eased into the program and the girls now know my expectations and know what I'm capable of. There will be no real big difference in coaching style; I just want to be a positive role model."
"I've coached a lot of theses girls since they were in the youth softball program," Hall said. "And I've coached alongside (former head coach Beth Bryant) for the last few years and we just want to keep doing what we are doing. Stay focused on improvement. That is more important than wins and losses."
Waynesboro's Aaron Burke returns to the Maidens softball team after coaching the last 10 games of the season as the team's interim head coach. Bill Poe takes over as the Shalom Christian girls soccer coach after assisting the team for the last three seasons.
Among the new coaches in the area, James Buchanan's new baseball coach Dave Sanchez will make the jump from coaching his son's little league team to high school baseball.
"One of the reasons I took the job is because the community of Mercersburg and St. Thomas is such a great community," Sanchez said. "And we have a great bunch of guys and that's very important to me as a coach. It's not just about baseball, it's what they can do for the community."
Sanchez, a former shortstop at Frostburg State, was also a volunteer assistant at Frederick Community College.
"I'm not going to be preaching to these guys to wait for the perfect pitch, I want them to go out and be aggressive," Sanchez said. "They need to expect a strike and a hit every time they're up."
Chambersburg's softball team will welcome Chris Skultety to the program, and Mercersburg Academy adds Doonie Brewer as the new coach for the Blue Storm softball team.