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Barry Purvis hopes to reprise success

Is it going back to the future, or is it moving forward to the past?

Either way, the Chambersburg Area School District has made its choice for a new girls basketball coach, and he's the old girls basketball coach. Chambersburg is hoping that by reaching out to Dr. Barry Purvis, who coached the Lady Trojans for 17 very successful seasons, it can bring about a brighter future for the program.

It's a program that needs a positive jolt.

"It's a great opportunity for a fresh start," said Lindsay Embly, who will be a senior post player next year. "My goal is to get to districts next year and leave this program in a happy place. We need to find a winning mentality and put up a fight every night."

Officially, Purvis has not yet been hired. He has gained the recommendation of the committee that was appointed to make the decision, and he will be included on a list of coaches who will be considered for approval by the school board, probably sometime in June.

However, Purvis met with prospective players Friday afternoon and he will be allowed to begin the process of rebuilding the program immediately.

"I've been itching to do this," said Purvis, who retired last June from a 35-year career with the school district, mostly in administration. "I've always loved coaching basketball and a lot of people talked to me and said I should do it.

"I did some thinking about it and then I said, 'Let's go. Let's get this done.'"

CASHS athletic director Jeremy Flores said nine candidates were looked at, but Purvis had some advantages on his side that weighed heavily.

"A number of candidates qualified basketball-wise, but at the end of the day, I wanted more than that," Flores said. "We need somebody dynamic and committed because this will take more than one or two years to turn it around. It takes more than just knowing the sport, you have to relate to the students and motivate them and relate to the parents.

"I think Barry's personality works for that. He's shown that he's really good at working with high school kids and has shown that he can build relationships. He has a passion and dedication to the district and the community that would be hard to find in anyone else."

Purvis is not going into the job with blinders on. He's been to most of the games, so he's seen the Trojans be outmanned and outplayed in the majority of games. He knows the hurdles he faces.

"There's a lot of work to do," he said. "I've watched them play, and they've struggled. But I know the teams in the conference and the style they play and I know most of the coaches. I'm looking forward to it, but I know it will be a challenge."

Purvis listed several priorities that need to be done as soon as possible:

• "We have to get the girls excited about playing basketball, and they have to understand the commitment needed."

• "I have to get a staff in order, and let them know what my expectations are. From seventh grade on up, they have to be committed to the program."

• "We need to get the kids involved in open gyms and summer leagues."

Several staples of Purvis-coached teams from 20 years ago will again be implemented: tough man-to-man defense that will harass teams the length of the court, and an offense that emphasizes getting out on transition.

"I don't see much difference in how the game is played now," Purvis said. "You need to play tough defense and get easy baskets. You need a combination of good athletes and good basketball players. The style of play in our division is fast-paced, so you need to play tough defense and be up-tempo."

And he believes there is a chance for next year's team to begin the process of improvement.

"The cupboard is not bare," Purvis said. "The girls coming back seem to have a good attitude. There are some girls out there who played before, but not last year, and I'll be recruiting them. I've done some coaching at the younger levels and there are some good kids coming up in the sixth and seventh grade."

It sounds like Purvis is ready to hit the ground running.

Flores said, "I can already sense a lot of excitement out there."