South Western soccer coach takes basketball job
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Clayton Wilcox wanted to try something new.
The longtime South Western coach had spent 13 years leading the school's boys' soccer team, while also assisting with the boys' basketball program. While he enjoyed both jobs, he thought it was time for another challenge.
That's why Wilcox applied for the boys' basketball head coaching position when it became available in March. According to a South Western press release, Wilcox was hired to fill that position earlier this month. He will resign from the soccer team to focus on basketball.
"I've always been involved in basketball, I like both sports a lot, but it was time for a change," Wilcox said. "I have a young family with a baby just over a month old, and trying to coach both teams I don't think would be possible."
Wilcox began his basketball coaching career as the Mustangs' seventh grade coach 13 years ago, and has spent the past four seasons as the JV head coach. He takes over for Nate Brodbeck, who resigned in March after nine seasons with South Western.
Though he has the benefit of being familiar with the program, Wilcox will have his work cut out for him to turn the Mustangs into a YAIAA contender. After reaching consecutive league title games in 2012 and 2013, South Western has gone 19-66 the past four seasons and 4-18 in 2016-17.
Still, there is some hope South Western might turn the corner. Despite their poor record this past winter, the Mustangs pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the YAIAA season when they beat Dallastown, 59-58, on Jan 3. They also took part in the season's highest-scoring game, a 109-98 loss to William Penn on Feb. 3.
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The Mustangs will also bring back a handful of varsity players next season, including Chase Topper, who led the team in scoring with 14.5 points per game. While Wilcox is feeling optimistic about the team's future, he said there is still a lot of work to do.
"We've shown flashes, and the guys we have can play," Wilcox said. "Confidence is fickle sometimes. Like the game we scored 98 points, I look at that and say we need to play better defense. There's no doubt about that, and we need the right combination of things."
The two areas Wilcox wants the Mustangs to focus on are defense and controlling the tempo. He added that they need to be more consistent to contend in YAIAA Division I, which sent five teams to the District 3 playoffs this past season.
Wilcox is also hoping to become more involved in South Western's youth basketball program. He pointed toward the JV team's 12-10 record this past season as evidence that the program has talented players waiting in the wings.
"The league we play in is challenging, and we've had teams the past few seasons that didn't finish with the amount of wins they deserved," Wilcox said. "It's hard to put a time table on things but we're looking for success next season. Our senior class has been together a long time and loves being in the gym and working."
A graduate of Franklin High School in Venango County, Wilcox attended Dickinson College where he played basketball for one year. He currently teaches English at South Western High School.
South Western athletic director Don Seidenstricker said Wilcox's history and experience as a coach and teacher at South Western made him the right person for the job.
"He's matured as a coach, and he's in the building and has a pretty fair grasp of our kids and our culture and demographics at the school," Seidenstricker said. "He really has the respect of people here. (The basketball team) has fallen off but we're talking only five years ago that we were in back-to-back championship games. We've shown the potential to be highly competitive."
Seidenstricker said the school has posted the boys' soccer coaching position and will look to fill it quickly.