CHAMBERSBURG — Justin English knows exactly what he’s getting into.
English was approved by the school board as the new Chambersburg girls basketball coach Wednesday night, and there is plenty of work to be done.
“I’m up for the challenge,” English said. “I don’t shy away from the underdog role.”
An underdog is what the Trojan program has been for many years, with a succession of coaches trying to elevate the team’s level of play in the rugged Mid Penn Commonwealth Division, perhaps the strongest league in the state in girls basketball.
English said, “I hope to get a formula so we can be competitive. If we can get five wins this first year, that’ll be great. I have confidence in my abilities, but I have to be realistic.”
CASHS athletic director Jeremy Flores said English emerged from a list of 11 candidates, six of whom were interviewed.
“It was a really quality pool, with a lot of experience,” Flores said, “and I was excited to see that.
“I think Justin’s proven track record at the college level will give a fresh perspective to the program. He’s got the right personality, he’s high energy and he’s positive. I think he can put us in the best position to win, on and off the court.”
English currently lives in Greencastle and he has helped the boys basketball program there for several years, first as a volunteer coach, then last season as the JV head coach and varsity assistant under Rick Lewis.
Before his family moved to Franklin County, he was the assistant women’s basketball coach at Clarion University, then was an assistant and interim head coach at Indiana of Pa.
“I had a great assistant and I thought we did a good job at IUP,” English said. “We re-branded the program there. But a new president came in and he wanted to move us to Division I, so they wanted a Division I coach.”
English admits he’s had the itch to be a head coach again.
“I like to be able to push the program in the way you think it needs to go,” he said.
He’ll get that chance at Chambersburg. The Trojans are coming off a 2-20 season, but Ashley Adams was the only senior on the roster, and point guard Robyn Stepler, who missed all but part of one game with an injury, should be back to run the offense.
In the summer, English will hold open gyms and the team will play in a league in Hagerstown, Md.
But the biggest thing on his mind is to find out everything he can about the program.
“We need to do a complete evaluation of the program, with all the parties involved,” English said, “and I’ll talk to all of the staff. I’ve watched some film, but this will take all summer for a real evaluation. We need to know that before we can know what direction to go.”
Barry Purvis, who resigned from the position after the season, said, “The players here need to be more dedicated to the game, and they need to have better skills to play against the teams in that league.
“A lot of players on the other teams want to play in college — at the Division I level — and they do what needs to be done to get that good.”
English is aware that the biggest task he has is to build a youth program that will allow interested girls to grow up in the program.
“I feel confident we can recruit some good athletes to play, or maybe some players who have not come out before,” he said. “If you can add one or two contributing players at each grade level, it can make a huge difference.
“But no matter how many games we win, I want the girls to come back years later and say that they enjoyed their experience.
“I’m excited to get started and see where this journey goes, and I want it to be a journey of confidence for the girls.”