A local coaching factory? Two new York County hoops coaches learned at the same school

·7 min read

When he applied for the girls' basketball head coaching job at Northeastern two years ago, Jason Getz was already formulating his future coaching staff in his head.

His first choice for an assistant would be Allison Osborne ― his colleague at West York who was already making a name for herself in her mid 20s.

"I knew I wanted to steal Allison," Getz said. "She was clearly going to be a phenomenal coach. Her maturity and the way she handled herself was beyond her years. It was just uncanny."

Two years later, things have worked out differently. Getz and Osborne will both be first-time varsity head coaches next year at different York County schools.

After nearly two decades as an assistant at West York, the 47-year-old Getz was approved as the Bulldogs leader June 21. He takes over for Jim Kunkle, who resigned after a successful five-year tenure to take an assistant position with the York College women's team.

And the 27-year-old Osborne was officially hired at Spring Grove on June 27. She takes over for legendary York County coach Troy Sowers, who resigned after a disappointing season that came one year after the Rockets won a District 3 title.

"We made each other better, but hopefully by splitting up we can take what we learned and valued and put that toward the county as a whole," Osborne said. "Hopefully we can make York County basketball become even more of a community."

Getz and Osborne are different ages and have had different career paths. They will be taking over different situations, with Spring Grove likely needing to rebuild and West York coming off a state playoff run.

But both said what they learned during their time together with the Bulldogs ― particularly how to get a sports team involved in the community ― will influence how they operate as head coaches. The West York girls' team held annual games raising awareness for cancer and Down syndrome under Kunkle.

And even though they might've remained on the same staff if Getz had gotten that earlier opportunity, they're both happy for each other.

"Oh no, I'm just 100% proud of her," Getz said when asked if he was disappointed he couldn't keep Osborne at West York. "Selfishly, I don't like that I don't have her here. But Spring Grove is lucky to get her."

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'She lit up the room'

Growing up around a father and multiple grandparents who coached at the college or high school levels, Osborne knew at a young age she was interested in the profession.

She remembers writing in grade school that she wanted to be a coach one day.

That's why she took a volunteer position at her alma mater when she was already finishing grad school and getting started as an occupational therapist in the medical field a few years ago.

"I've always been a go-getter and a planner," Osborne said. "When I set a goal, I follow through with it. Being involved in extracurriculars always helped me balance things in the real world, and I apply that to coaching."

A 2012 Spring Grove graduate, Osborne will be one of the two youngest girls' basketball head coaches in the YAIAA next season, along with Susquehannock's Alex Fancher ― a fellow 2012 high school grad. And she will be one of just two women head coaches in the league along with York Suburban's Jess Weaver.

She's aware her age and gender make her a rarity among local head coaches, but she believes those things will benefit her.

"I'm younger than most people and don't have the same family obligations, so I can really devote time to the program," she said. "It's a little nerve-racking because all the decisions are on me, but I think being young will help me rebuild things at the youth level.

"It's an honor (to be a female head coach) because it's not easy to do with social standards. I'm hoping to be a good role model to the girls and show them they can be in charge of things."

Even at age 27, Osborne has plenty of experience with the sport. She played for NCAA Division III Pitt-Bradford and volunteered under former Spring Grove coach Holly Strait for a year before getting hired at West York. She was a paid assistant coach for the Bulldogs the past two seasons.

Kunkle described her as outgoing and vocal and said she was excellent at connecting with female student-athletes. Spring Grove athletic director Jeff Laux said Osborne "lit up the room with her passion and positivity" during her interview.

She takes over a Spring Grove team coming off a frustrating 9-12 season. The Rockets were preseason YAIAA favorites after a historic run to the state semifinals in 2021, but superstar Laila Campbell decided shortly before the start of the season to run indoor track instead of playing high school basketball. Campbell said this spring she will to continue that plan moving forward.

Spring Grove's Leah Kale (22) attempts to block South Western's Oliva Sell (0) during the first half of a girls basketball game between the South Western Mustangs and the Spring Grove Rockets, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at South Western High School in Penn Township.
Spring Grove's Leah Kale (22) attempts to block South Western's Oliva Sell (0) during the first half of a girls basketball game between the South Western Mustangs and the Spring Grove Rockets, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at South Western High School in Penn Township.

The Rockets will bring back one of the league's best players in rising senior guard Leah Kale. But Osborne said she's just as focused in building up Spring Grove's youth levels since the program hasn't had a JV team the last three years.

"No matter where I've coached I always develop the person and not just the basketball player," said Osborne, who still works full-time as an OT. "I want to build a culture that is a little different than what they're used to and get the (participation) numbers up. I'm big on inclusiveness and teaching life lessons."

Some friendly trash talk?

Getz said his new opportunity is one he's wanted for years.

A Lewistown native, Getz has been coaching basketball since he graduated from Shippensburg University in the late 1990s. Most of that time has come at West York, where he's served as a middle school teacher for the past 23 years. He also had a stint as an assistant coach at Northeastern in the late 2000s.

He's coached under a number of successful coaches with the Bulldogs, from Sowers to Jon Shultz to Darrell Wildasin and then Kunkle. Getz said he applied for the head coaching job at West York a number of times during that stretch but decided to remain an assistant and learn from those coaches.

"I've taken a little from each one," he said. "Some of them I might have disagreed with on some things at the time but when you step back you realize your philosophy has changed over the years."

Kunkle praised Getz as one of the best "teachers" of the game he's been around. The Bulldogs are coming off a 18-10 season that included a surprise run to the PIAA quarterfinals and will bring back talented 6-foot junior Faith Walker and sophomore point guard Reagan Doll next season. Getz said YAIAA Division II should be "wide-open" next season.

Still, he will have to rebuild his coaching staff with Osborne and others taking new opportunities. Another West York assistant, Zona Smith, accepted a coaching position at Wilson College.

"That's the coaching tree philosophy, right?," Getz said with a laugh. "If you do well, people will be recognized and leave."

West York girls' basketball head coach Jim Kunkle talks to his team during a timeout during a game against Gettysburg last season. After five seasons at West York, Kunkle resigned to take a job at York College.
West York girls' basketball head coach Jim Kunkle talks to his team during a timeout during a game against Gettysburg last season. After five seasons at West York, Kunkle resigned to take a job at York College.

With Spring Grove and West York in different divisions in the YAIAA, Getz and Osborne won't compete against each other often. Still, the teams could play in the YAIAA or District 3 Class 5A playoffs and might participate in the same in-season tournaments.

Both coaches said there will be some friendly trash talk if they do coach against each other. But they plan to help each other scout common opponents the rest of the time.

Their former boss isn't sure how he'll handle a potential matchup between them. Kunkle still lives in the West York Area School District but he attended Spring Grove.

"I'll be Switzerland," he said of his neutrality. "That will be tough, but I'll be at that game and I'm proud of them both.

"The Xs and Os for them will come easy. After the first year everything else will fall into place. They both earned what they got."

Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, mallibone@ydr.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone. 

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: New West York and Spring Grove basketball coaches started at same place