Entering his 23rd season, Westmont Hilltop’s Dave Roman Jr. has the longest tenure among current area boys basketball head coaches.
Roman has seen plenty of hoops scenarios unfold through the years, but nothing quite like the past offseason and COVID-19 delayed 2020-21 schedule.
“The spring was really different because usually we would start back in the gym in late April or early May,” Roman said, referring to the pandemic wiping out the later rounds of the PIAA Tournament as well as the entire spring sports season. “With everything shut down, we didn’t get back together as a team until June 19.
“It was open gym three days a week and some summer games mixed in as well,” he said.
“We hit the fall and it was pretty normal as well with two or three open gyms a week. But the shutdown (Dec. 12 to Jan. 4) was a lot different because we couldn’t be together at all. As good a shape as we were in during the fall, those three weeks you could see the toll it took on the kids, not just physically but emotionally.”
Roman will begin the season with a 347-213 record which includes 22 years with the Hilltoppers and one season fronting the Greater Johnstown program. His Hilltoppers won District 6 gold in 1999, 2000 and 2007. The Trojans won the District 6 title in 2009, his only season at Johnstown.
“This was different than any year I’ve ever been through,” said Roman, who has an experienced team blessed with a combination of size and athleticism.
“I think as a young coach you kind of coach for maybe a little bit of selfish reasons,” he said. ‘You want to prove yourself and show you belong. As you mature as a coach and have been around for a while, it’s 100% about the kids. My thoughts were with the players and how (the pandemic) affected them.”
Among the other area boys coaches with double-digit tenures entering this season are:
• Portage’s Travis Kargo, 21st season, 235-237.
• Shade’s Wade Fyock, 18th season, 315-121.
• Berlin Brothersvalley’s Tanner Prosser, 16th season, 271-113.
• Cambria Heights’ Eric Nagel, 16th season, 114-207.
• Somerset’s Scott Close, 15th season, 173-166.
• Blacklick Valley's Garry Wurm, 15th season, 141-189
• Bishop Carroll Catholic’s Cosie Aliquo, 13th season, 236-121.
• Conemaugh Township’s Chuck Lesko, 13th season, 191-95.
• Penn Cambria’s Jim Ronan, 13th season, 129-151.
• Greater Johnstown’s Ryan Durham, 10th season, 139-59.
• Central Cambria’s Adam Stephan, 10th season, 99-116.
“One of the biggest changes in coaching is how we would scout off of VHS (video tapes) years ago,” Roman said, chuckling. “I remember traveling hundreds of miles to go watch a game and scout. Once me and my assistant drove to Scotland School down in Chambersburg to watch Tussey Mountain play. Now I don’t leave my house. We have Hudl.”