The GNA Insider

Coach Stetz and Coach Yenji leave lasting legacy

Jennifer Kurkoski, Student Writer

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Throughout our lives, the people we encounter influence us and make a certain impact that will never be forgotten; in a perfect example of this, Mr. Ryan Stetz, the former softball coach, and Mr. Alan Yendrzeiwski, the former girls’ basketball coach, had a positive effect on the lives of students here at GNA for as long as anyone can remember.

Their overall sense of commitment has left even the most loyal of people in awe. They volunteered their own time to be at practices and gave up their weekends for fundraisers. These coaches were dedicated to helping, not only the team succeed, but also helping individual players accomplish certain personal goals. They committed themselves to developing the skills of the players while sharing their knowledge of the game.

Both Coach Stetz and Coach Yenji expressed one of the most important qualities of good mentors: leadership.  The coaches guided players, taught them lifelong lessons, built their self-esteem, and inspired them. They always tried their best to showcase the players’ full potential. Their dedication to making sure each and every player was at or exceeding their potential was admirable. They recognized what makes each player unique and continued to build off of those differences to ensure success.

Coach Yenji and Coach Stetz helped to set goals for the team as well as goals for individual players. They accounted for the team’s strengths and weakness, formulating a plan that would led them to victory time and time again. Knowing how to maximize the players’ resources, they both created a movement that inspired the team to become motivated and successful. They had the proper skills and knowledge to access different information, and they found the best path for each and every player to move forward.

Coach Stetz and Coach Yenji will be greatly missed by both the supporting community and the ever-loyal Trojanettes. They have left an unfading mark on the the teams they’ve coached as well as the people they’ve come in contact with throughout their lives.

The GNA Insider had the opportunity to sit down and interview both Coach Yenji and Coach Stetz regarding their retirement:

Coach Stetz

What made you interested in coaching?

– Pace of the game.

High level of expectations surrounding the softball program.

-Competition of playing the area and state’s top programs.

-Work ethic, skill set and talent of our players.

What would you like your former players to remember you for?

Consistent and positive effort each day. I truly cared about them and their success. We worked throughout the fall, the fall league schedule, and lifted in the winter to best prepare them for each season. All while never taking ourselves too seriously.

How did you communicate your plans and expectations to parents?

Our families are very dedicated to the sport of softball. Very little was ever said…. Everyone involved let their actions and effort raise the level of Nanticoke Softball.

Did you have a major philosophy as a coach? If so, what was it?

As a coach I do not have a major philosophy. However, each year we established a theme or slogan that best fit the direction and goal of the team for that one particular season.

Does your coaching philosophy have any relationship to education?

In a skill sport like softball, we drilled and prepared, so during games players had a free-mind and simply reacted. I tried to eliminate stress, and we played with as much energy and enjoyment as possible.

How did you motivate players and get them to buy into their role on the team each year?

My responsibility was to manage and guide our team. We had so many talented and motivated players. Having try-outs really established a high standard as well. We also never had captains or separated players by graduating classes. We were truly one roster to compete against some very difficult schedules.

Is there a moment in your coaching career that stands out the most?

During an important state playoff game, I disrupted the flow of the game and completely over-managed. Rather than getting upset or blaming me, the team rallied and came back to win the game under very challenging circumstances. That situation humbled me and I became very grateful for the respect and trust of our team. I also knew at that point our players could respond to any challenge and could be pushed to accomplish great things.

Is there a player who stands out the most? Why?

I have fond memories of each player. Seasons standout far more because each one took a total team effort. 

2015 District Title and State Semi-Final.

2017 Undefeated League Championship.

2018 District Runner-Up and State Semi-Final.

As a coach, how did you define success? Is it more than just winning?

We are judged and rightfully so by our wins and losses. Success means many things, but at Nanticoke during softball season, playing with pride while being the best we could was everyone’s goal. We didn’t like to lose, but at the same time we didn’t win every game. We never made excuses. When we won, we said little, and when we lost, we said less.

Now that you are not coaching, what are you doing with your free time?

Spending time with family and focusing on the students of GNA.

What did you enjoy most about coaching?

1.) Preparing the team throughout the entire year. Fall ball, individual workouts and team lifting.

2.) Practicing during the season.

3.) Guiding the overall direction and look of the program to make it something the school and community could be proud of when they see, “Nanticoke Softball.”

4.) Coaching, strategizing and making adjustments in very big games always was so much fun as well.

How did coaching change your life?

It made me happy, humbled and grateful for the experience.

Would you ever consider coaching in the future?

No doubt, many goals still out there….

What made you decide to retire?

I really enjoyed and cherished everyday representing Nanticoke softball. It was simply time to hand it over to the next person and allow them to carry on the tradition. I never wanted to stay too long or coach to “coach.” I am so grateful for the wonderful experience and will always look back at my time with a big smile and laugh. Amazing teams and players!! The recent edition of Nanticoke softball from 2013-2018 can be placed right next to the great teams of the past. It was an honor and privilege to play a small role in such an outstanding program. I look forward to following the future teams and wish them nothing, but the best.

 

Coach Yenji

What made you interested in coaching?

I was still in college at that moment and wanted to still be involved with Nanticoke basketball. So during my sophomore year of college, I started off with the junior high program as an assistant and worked my way up from there.

What would you like your former players to remember you for?

I think at the end of the day I treated our players like athletes on the court and like young women off the court. If there was one thing that my former players would remember me for it was pushing them to be the best they can be.

How did you communicate your plans and expectations to parents?

I would tell parents that if their child is hurt, or something went wrong at home or something went wrong in school, that I am always there. After that, I wanted parents to go to games and support the players.  I am there to help parents, but more importantly to coach the kids.

Did you have a major philosophy as a coach? If so, what was it?

The”Trojannette Way” was the big thing for our team. Overall, for our kids and players to understand that they are part of something bigger than just themselves. When they come and play here it’s not about “me” it’s about “we.”

Does your coaching philosophy have any relationship to education?

I wanted to get the most out of my players. Getting them to be the best that they could be, and maybe even more then they thought they could. Also, to maximize their talents in sports, school, etc. I think that is important in both athletics and in academics.

How did you motivate players and get them to buy into their role on the team each year?

All the players knew they had an important role on the team whether it would be to start, to come off the bench, play on the JV team or cheer for your teammates. Everyone has their own unique role and it is up to each player to embrace it and perform to the best of their abilities.

Is there a moment in your coaching career that stands out the most?

The District Championship game against Berwick at the Arena stands out. Just the way we played… our style had shown what our program was all about. I enjoyed the decorating party afterwards and the clean up after that.

Is there a player who stands out the most? Why?

Every player I have ever coached stands out for one reason or another, but if I had to choose one, it would be Kayla Aufiero. The reason why I picked Kayla was because she was a kid that didn’t always crack the starting line up while playing on different AAU teams. She was a hardworking kid and she was determined to get better. Through her years of high school, she passed off all of the other players in the league from those AAU teams. By the end of her senior year, she became an All-State player, yet she always put the team’s goals first. 

As a coach, how did you define success? Is it more than just winning?

Yes, I think it’s more than just winning. If you try to do your best, maximize the kids talents and maybe stretch it a little more or beyond… if you do that, winning takes care of itself.

Now that you are not coaching, what are you doing with your free time?

I spent a lot of time with my kids in the pool over the summer. At this moment, I could go home and relax in my free time.

What did you enjoy most about coaching?

Basketball was the one little area of my players’ lives where I was their go-to person. I enjoyed the role of being a mentor to the young ladies in our program. If they needed help or had a question I was always there and I took it seriously. That is the part that I already miss and will probably always miss.

How did coaching change your life?

I experienced so many things and made great friends through basketball, both as a player and as a coach. I got to play and coach in many big games and was fortunate to win some championships along the way. I have great stories to tell, like the time I played against Kobe Bryant and the time we won a district title at the arena to name just a few. Also, I met my wife while coaching. It has defined me and who I am today in so many different ways.

Would you ever consider coaching in the future?

No plans at this moment. I would like to take some time and spend it with family.

What made you decide to retire?

I started to feel a little burned out from doing it for so long (21 years as a coach), but mostly family.

About the Writer
Jennifer Kurkoski, Student Writer

My name is Jen Kurkoski, and I am a junior at Greater Nanticoke Area High School. This is my first year working for The GNA Insider.

I enjoy playing...

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Coach Stetz and Coach Yenji leave lasting legacy