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Frank Hetrick 022BY JEFF FALK

ANNVILLE – They aren’t concerned with money, power or prestige. Real men measure success by how many lives they’ve touched.

In that case, Frank  Hetrick is the most successful man you know. Coach ‘Het’ has achieved his special brand of success by blurring the boundaries between quantity and quality.

Hetrick may be longest tenured coach in the history of Lebanon County football. At 49 years of coaching and 71 years of age, Hetrick may have slowed down just a bit, but he’s still going strong.

Hetrick is in his 13th season of coaching the offensive and defensive lines at Annville-Cleona High School. Before that, he spent 36 years coaching football at Cedar Crest, and teaching physical education at the school district’s middle school.

Frank Hetrick 007Hetrick has been blessed with a gift for coaching, teaching and communicating, one he has felt compelled to share with youth. Though he and his wife have no biological children of their own, Hetrick has been a father figure to thousands of Lebanon County kids, a number that only continues to grow.

“I don’t know,” said Hetrick of his special gift. “Norb (former Cedar Crest head coach Norbie Danz) always said Dale (Umberger) and I had a special way with kids. ‘They cling to you.’ It’s a gift from God. But it does make you feel good when you’re able to reach them.

“You wouldn’t believe how it makes you feel when (after a couple of years) they come up and hug you,” continued Hetrick. “It seems like they never forget you. You hope you’re teaching them things that will help them in life. Serving, giving – it’s so important in life today.”

Always quick to assume responsibility and deflect praise, Hetrick has assisted seven different head coaches in his time – Tom Auman, Danz, Dennis Tulli, Barry Hechard, Gene ‘Spike’ Fuhrman, Terry Lehman and now Matt Gingrich. To put things into further perspective, most of the current members of the Little Dutchmen coaching staff either played for Hetrick at one time, or have coached along side of him for years.

Hetrick and his dear friend Umberger, who passed away a few years back, were instrumental in instituting a number of highly successful intramural athletic programs, including floor hockey, during their teaching days.

Frank Hetrick 011“When I left college there was an opening at Cedar Crest when Tom Auman was the head coach,” said Hetrick. “That was the luckiest thing for me, being around great coaches. They’ve all been great. Norbie was my super mentor.

“No, I never really wanted to be a head coach,” Hetrick continued. “The year Norbie quit, I could’ve had the job. They (the Cedar Crest administration) wanted me to take over when he left. They said, ‘All you’ve got to say is you want it’. But I didn’t want it. I knew it wouldn’t be good for me. With my personality, I get too high when things are good, and I get too low when things are bad.”

“There are some people in your life who affect you more than others,” said Gingrich. “He will go to the hospital every single day, to visit people he knows there. He has never thought about himself.”

“It’s impossible to put into words what he’s meant to Lebanon County, and it could be in the tens-of-thousands of kids he’s helped,” added Gingrich. “You can’t understand what he’s done for this county, he and Dale. You can’t put a number on the lives he’s saved.”

In many ways, Hetrick’s relationship with kids and coaches and athletics is a symbiotic one.

A man of integrity, character and respect, Hetrick has continued to feel and stay young by surrounding himself with youth. The game of football may have changed, and so have the kids who play it, but Hetrick never will, just by staying true to his values and beliefs.

“I don’t have any children,” said Hetrick. “I always have the feeling that when you’re around youth it keeps you young. I always say kids haven’t changed one bit, but I think parents have a little bit.

Frank Hetrick 026“When they come into seventh grade, they know everything about the world,” Hetrick added. “When they’re in tenth grade, they’re convinced they know everything about the world. Then they become men. I just remember 1968 to today. When we (he and Umberger) started, we were around as old as the kids. Now I’m old enough to be their grandfather.”

“This is my seventh year of coaching football,” said Gingrich. “There’s days when I don’t know how many more I can do. When I think of him, it’s amazing. There’s a lot of people who have coached a long time, who haven’t coached 49 years.

“He’s a Cedar Crest legend, and I think he’s become an Annville-Cleona legend,” continued Gingrich. “The stories he tells me, it’s just a different education system now. But I think he may have saved more lives through his intramural work (at Cedar Crest) than even his football work.”

Even the position he coaches reflects Hetrick’s character and personality. An integral part of a football team’s success, the offensive and defensive lines don’t always get the credit they deserve.

“I did that in college,” said Hetrick of his playing days in South Dakota. “I was an offensive lineman in college. I just absolutely loved it. It’s the unit that makes the whole operation go.

Frank Hetrick 023“That’s the rewarding thing, when you get a note from a person you coached in the (19)70s,” Hetrick added. “You hope you had an influence on them. That’s the touching thing about coaching.”

“Each year it gets harder,” said Gingrich. “When you’re young, it’s tough because they (the players) want to be your friend. You’re trying to get the most out of them.

“Here’s how he gets them: He loves them,” continued Gingrich. “Those kids know Coach Het loves them. He doesn’t have to coach them at all, because they know Coach Het loves them. They know his only care is about them. Leaving Coach Het down is probably the worst thing they can do.”

Certainly when he began coaching and teaching in the late 1960s, Hetrick didn’t think he be doing it for 49 years. It’s just not how he’s wired.

“Everyone thinks at the time that they’re going to coach and teach for 30 years,” said Hetrick. “But you just keep hanging around.

“It’s the people I have here that keep me going,” Hetrick added. “I don’t do much. You hope you’re making a difference with kids, and maybe that you’re helping them out.”

“I’ve know him for a long time,” said Gingrich. “Everybody knows Frank and Dale. When I got this job I remember telling him, ‘If you don’t stay, I’m not applying’. When he comes out every year, he reminds me of my grandfather. Everyday I wake up trying to be like Frank. And everyday I fall short.”

Frank Hetrick 001Certainly coaching another, 50th, year would be an amazing milestone for Hetrick. But when asked about his coaching future beyond that, Hetrick was very non-committal.

“I would enjoy that,” said Hetrick. “My wife thinks it’s (coaching) good for me. To do this for this long, you’ve got to have a special spouse.

“When it’s time, I’ll go off into the sunset,” continued Hetrick. “Probably one of the toughest things in coaching are Friday nights when it gets cool.”

“He has seen so many people die after they retire,” said Gingrich of Hetrick. “I see him coming out here and coaching until he can’t coach any more. And we will have him coach until he can’t coach any more.”





Frank Hetrick 010To purchase images in this article email jkifalk205@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.




2017 Annville-Cleona Football Schedule

7:00 PM L 34-36
7:00 PM W 51-13
Camp Hill
7:00 PM W 39-20
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/22 *
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/29 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
10/07 *
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/13 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
10/27 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
11/03 *
7:00 PM Donegal High School






Frank Hetrick 037

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