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 BY JEFF FALK

  Can an athletic director make a school district’s overall athletic program better? That answer lies somewhere between a definitive ‘yes’ and a definitive ‘no’.

  But if the past has taught us anything, clearly he or she can. What remains unclear is exactly how it all works, how it all shakes out.

 The Cornwall-Lebanon School District and Cedar Crest High School’s new man for that job is Chris Groff.

  In May, Groff’s recommendation as the Falcons’ next athletic director was approved by Cornwall-Lebanon’s board of education. He’ll officially take the reigns on July 1st.

  Cedar Crest’s opening was created by the retirement of assistant principal Ed Felty and the promotion of former AD Rob Snyder to Felty’s duties.

  “The biggest thing I can do is learn abour our coaches,” said Groff. “My biggest challenge is: ‘How can I help them do their jobs better?’ ‘How can I remove obstacles to make their jobs easier?’ Coaching is difficult enough, and it’s difficult for school districts to keep good coaches.

 “Right now, I’m going to start small,” continued Groff. “I want to learn as much as I can and evaluate. For me, it’s about continuing improvement. I don’t have those larger goals. I can’t serve our athletes and coaches until I know them better.”

 Except for a few minor exceptions, the Cedar Crest athletic program overall is in very good shape. In part, Groff’s job is to maintain the status quo, and tweak and fine tune where necessary.

 “I think we’re in great shape,” said Groff. “I want to take time with our coaches and talk. We have many, many good people involved here. I don’t measure success by wins and losses. I’m really about the process. We’re teaching the right things. We’re going to give kids crucial experiences which will help them down the line. And we’re not going to stop trying to improve.

 “In terms of the process, I saw the position posted, and it was certainly a position I was interested in,” Groff continued. “So I gave it a shot. I love Cedar Crest athletics. This position gives me an opportunity to be involved. Sports has always been in my blood. Now I get an opportunity to step into a larger role.”

 Groff is about seven years removed from the local sports spotlight.

 From 2003 to 2012, after taking over for legendary coach Bill Dissinger, Groff enjoyed great success as the head coach of the Falcon varsity baseball program. In addition to producing a wealth of talent, Cedar Crest garnered District Three championships in 2010 and 2012, as well as a Lancaster-Lebanon League title in 2011, all under Groff.

 Before that, Groff headed Cedar Crest’s JV baseball program for three springs.

 “For me, the things I remember most were the relationships I had with my coaching staff and players,” said Groff. “We took a lot of pride in the success we had. We won a lot of games. But the kids worked hard and wanted to win. It was fun to be part of it. We had a lot of kids put in a lot of time. When I see some of the boys now, it brings back great, great memories.

 “When I stepped away, my oldest son was growing up and I was missing a lot of his games,” added Groff. “I knew it was time. I had two more children coming at that time, and in essence, my wife was raising our three children. It was for family reasons.”

 Passoinate and competitive, Groff was always a players-first, hands-on, in-the-trenches-with-the-troops kind of coach. While it may take some adjusting, Groff believes that sort of approach as an administrator can benefit Cedar Crest as well.

 “I’m an extremely competitive person,” said Groff. “I still love to coach. I love being around players and helping them improve. That’s part of it, being around athletes and coaches and competition. I love sports, and being around them.

 “As a coach, you are the leader of the program and you need to be hands-on,” Groff added. “Moving into this role, I plan to be hands-on, to serve our coaches and kids. Being a good athletic director, people don’t know who you are or exactly what you do. I just want to help give our kids the best opportunities possible.”

 For the past 20 years, Groff had been a teacher at Cedar Crest Middle School, instructing reading, language arts, math and social studies. He headed CCMS’ language arts department for the last 15 years.

 Groff graduated from Northern Lebanon High School in 1994, earned his undergraduate degree from West Chester University, received his master’s degree from Penn State and earned his principal’s certificate from Temple.

 “When I was an undergraduate at West Chester, being an administrator was a goal,” said Groff. “But I never knew when it was going to happen. I just love athletics. I think it’s a role where I can utilize many of my past experiences. I think it was over time that I realized I wanted to be an athletic director, and now the opportunity has arisen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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