Walking off the court after his last high school basketball game, Tyler Massar said he wished he could return to Cedar Crest one day as a coach.
Five years later, before he even graduated college, Massar’s wish was granted.
“It’s a very exciting feeling walking back onto my home court,” Massar said. “I tell my players all the time how badly I want to be back in their shoes.”
The 22-year-old is now the coach of the junior varsity boys team at Cedar Crest. After graduating in 2012, he studied at Penn State University and is currently working toward his bachelor’s degree in education with hopes of being a math teacher. He was a four-year member of the boys’ basketball team in high school and also played golf and baseball.
After volunteering as an assistant coach for varsity and junior varsity for two years, Massar received a call last summer from Cedar Crest varsity coach Tom Smith, who was also Massar’s high school coach.
“I was on the golf course and I got a call from Tom and he said, ‘Hey, I've got a JV job open and you’re the guy for it,’” Massar said. “I said, ‘Absolutely!’ I accepted the offer and couldn’t wait to start.”
Massar said he knew he would eventually make his way back to his home court after a comment made to him by his coach on the day of his high school graduation.
“I remember Tom telling me I could have started coaching for him right then and there,” Massar recalled. “But I said I needed to go to college first.”
Smith has been the varsity coach for Cedar Crest for the past seven seasons and said Massar was one of the first names he thought of when they were in need of a coach.
“I loved coaching him,” Smith said. “He stood for everything we stand for within Cedar Crest basketball and he really embraced his time here. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger in that he is very ambitious and wants to be a good coach.”
As a full-time college student, Massar was a volunteer assistant coach for the last two years, commuting back and forth to games and practices from Penn State Harrisburg.
Not being paid was never an issue for him.
“I was delighted by the opportunity to even be helping out,” Massar said. “I do everything I can for these kids … It’s just the type of person I am.”
Massar said he knew he wanted to be a coach and a teacher when he was in high school, singling out golf coach Rick Dissinger, social studies teacher Brian Powers and chemistry teacher Keith Hysick for their guidance and support.
Massar said his eighth-grade math teacher, Tim Fogelsanger, made the biggest impact on him.
“I had some great teachers and coaches in my life,” Massar said. “But Tim … he just made math enjoyable for me and the way he treated the kids was great. He was also the basketball coach at the time and I just realized that was what I wanted to do - I wanted to be like him.”
Although this is his first year coaching his own team, Massar’s players have already responded to his motivational style of coaching.
“The way he talks to us is always so inspiring,” freshman Carson Perlaki said. “Whenever you’re out there, give it 100 percent. He always says that to us.”
For junior Blake Thomson, Massar is more than just a coach.
“At first he was a little quiet, but then he started warming up to us,” Thomson said. “He’s a great leader, a really great guy and I consider him a good friend of mine.”
Massar won his first game as a coach by 24 points against Manheim Central on Dec. 13 and believes his team is capable of a promising season.
He said he is also looking forward to coaching his younger brother Trey, who is in eighth grade and might be playing for him in two years.
“He is a fantastic kid and a great player,” Massar said. “I know sometimes he doesn’t like to listen to me, but he is still developing. I wish the best for him. He knows who I am and what my legacy is here at Cedar Crest. I know he will be ready to step up when the time comes.”
This fall, Massar was a student teacher at Cedar Crest Middle School in Lisa Cronin’s seventh-grade mathematics class. He graduated from Penn State on Dec. 17 and will be a substitute teacher for the Cornwall Lebanon School District.
“I love teaching and I love coaching,” Massar said. “It was one of the best experiences of my life being the student teacher of that class. I realized why I wanted to be a teacher. I do everything I can for my students and players and I will continue to do that throughout my career.”