By Lisa Byers
One of the most successful and recognizable high school coaches in Crawford County has decided to hang up her whistle … one of her whistles, anyhow.
Sheila Bancroft has stepped down as the head boys volleyball coach at Maplewood. She will remain the head coach of the girls program.
Bancroft submitted her letter of resignation regarding the boys program this week. The move must still be approved by the PENNCREST School Board, whose next meeting is Aug. 8.
“I always said when I was ready to leave coaching I would know,” Bancroft said. “I didn’t know. But I know I have to slow down.”
Bancroft coached the boys volleyball team in the spring for eight seasons, while also coaching the girls volleyball team in the fall. She also volunteered time with the junior high boys and girls volleyball teams and ran the Junior Olympic Flash Volleyball Club. She is also a full-time elementary school physical education teacher.
“I’ve been trying to juggle it all,” Bancroft said. “Not only am I running myself down and cheating my family, I’m cheating the programs because I’m not able to give them the time.”
Bancroft, who will enter her 27th season as the girls volleyball head coach, took over as boys volleyball head coach in December of 2005 following the retirement of Randy Sovisky.
A Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, Bancroft compiled an overall dual match record of 106-37 during her tenure. She led the Tigers to four Region 1 titles with the boys, two District 10 crowns and a state runner-up trophy.
However, while coaching the boys team, Bancroft’s wasn’t able to spend as much time as she liked with the girls junior high program, whose season coincides with the boys’.
Then last month, junior high girls coach Angela Groshner submitted her resignation to accept a nursing job in Pittsburgh. So Bancroft knew it was time to let someone else take over the boys team so she could devote more time to the school’s girls program, as well as her family. Yet, the decision did not come easy.
“It is one of the toughest decisions I’ve made in my life,” Bancroft said.
Bancroft said she wrote the letter of resignation with her husband Rory’s help with tears running down her face. Then on the day she intended to turn in the resignation, Bancroft had a slight change of heart, tucked the letter back inside her purse and left without submitting the letter.
Finally submitting the letter was, she said, “The right decision. I have my family too. My kids will start having kids. Emily (her daughter) lives in Texas now. I could never just say, ‘I’m going away for the weekend to go visit her.’ Now, if I wanted to get on a plane in January or February and go to visit her, I can do that.”
Bancroft said she had considered resigning before the 2013 season, but wanted to make sure the right person was ready to take over the program.
“I’m the type of person who wanted to find the right person,” Bancroft said. “And I just couldn’t find the right person. I still haven’t. But will I ever find that person who I am happy with? Probably not. I want things to be perfect. But I have to understand that it can’t be run my way and that it is O.K. for someone else to do it and I’m sure they will do just as good.”
Bancroft said she is willing to stay on staff as a volunteer and help whoever it is that winds up taking over the position. In the meantime, she will head back to where it all began, coaching the varsity and junior varsity girls teams in preparation for the fall season and molding the future of that program as the junior high girls coach. As for how long Bancroft plans to retain those positions?
“I have no clue,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do without it.”