For the first time in more than a decade, there will be a new Panther in charge on the Central York boys' volleyball bench. Longtime assistant coach Todd Goodling, who has been with the program since 1984, was named Brad Livingston's replacement in February. The Dallastown High School and Wake Forest University graduate has been coaching at the high school and college levels for 40 years combined and takes over a program that has won six state championships and 22 district titles. He recently spoke with GameTimePA about the season ahead and the challenges of taking over for such a successful head coach.
What made you want to apply to be Central's head coach?
A 30-year investment in the Central York boys' volleyball program was compelling motivation to do everything I possibly could to ensure the traditions, successes, culture and experiences that define the Central York boys' volleyball family continued.
What's at the top of your to-do list for the program?
The same as it is every year with this program: Getting the team to understand that trying to win a state championship is much more important than winning one.
Your situation is rather unique. You were with Brad for many years, and now you get to carry on the success of the program. Is there any added challenge in being the first coach after someone who was there for such a long time?
Not really. Central's program has never been a 'coach-centric' program revolving around the personalities and egos of the people sitting at the head of the bench. The program has been about working hard in the practice gym, being as prepared as possible and then allowing the athletes to step on the court and play the game. Coach Livingston has been my great friend for 30-plus years. The coaching staff and the team miss his presence, energy and humor in the practice gym and on the bench but we will all work tirelessly to make him proud of the 2016 Central volleyball final product. There will be no 'takeover' of the program in 2016, just a continuation.
What did you learn in your years as an assistant that you can use now as a head coach?
I've never felt like an assistant coach in the Central program. I've always been made to feel like a collaborative partner. Since 1984, I have had the great opportunity and privilege to work alongside coach Livingston, the Kollers (program founders Bruce and Barbara) and the Central York athletic department in crafting a program that provides some very unique experiences to those high school athletes willing to work hard and subjugate their own personal wants to the greater needs of the team. It has been an amazing coaching experience full of wonderful friendships and a legacy that I and the 2016 staff are both proud and obligated to continue. The only difference between what I do now as a head coach and what I have done for the past 30 years is a lot of seemingly mindless paperwork (laughs.)
Central has been at or near the top of the state level for years now. What are your expectations for this season?
To remain relevant. It is an exciting year for the program. All of the players who have contributed to the state title and multiple AAA district championships over the past three years have graduated and many of them joined the collegiate volleyball ranks. A new crop of players now get a chance to fill their shoes and try to continue the legacy, traditions and culture of the Central York program. If we can learn to get out of our own way, to not complicate things and to find a sense of urgency, I think this team could be quite good and very exciting to watch. They need to understand that they have a limited time to accomplish great things.
What's your favorite part about being in Central's program?
What do you want the Central fans to know about you before you get started as a head coach?
As little as possible and to notice me as little as possible. High school athletics should be about the teenagers playing the game not the person leading the program. I'll do my best to make sure that the focus stays on those athletes that have worked very hard over the past 12 months to prepare themselves to successfully make their way through a very tough state-caliber 2016 schedule. That's just the way Brad (Livingston) would want it.