The Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program is no stranger to success. Will Wenninger is no stranger to coaching success.
And the Cedar Crest girls’ basketball program under Wenninger is no stranger to success.
On Monday evening, the Cornall-Lebanon school board approved the recommondation of Wenninger as Cedar Crest’s new head girls’ basketball coach. Wenninger will draw a salary of $8,747 per year.
“Basketball’s been part of my life since I was eight,” said Wenninger. “I didn’t have the physical traits to be really good at it. I could understand the game cerebrally. I knew where I was supposed to go, but my feet couldn’t take me there. I like being around kids. I think I can make a difference in their lives.”
“It was a very, very competitive pool of candidates,” said Cedar Crest athletic director Chris Groff. “We had a lot of experienced coaches apply. We knew Will. He’s prepared, and he makes sure his teams are prepared. He really considers himself a teacher of the game. We’re really excited to have him come back to Cedar Crest.”
Wenninger had piloted the Falcon girls from 1999-2003, and during those four years Cedar Crest captured three Lancaster-Lebanon Section One championships, a pair of league titles and the 2002-03 District Three championship. During that span, Cedar Crest posted an overall record of 85-31.
Wenninger currently teaches social studies at Hershey High School and will retain that job while coaching hoops at Cedar Crest.
“I thought we had great support from the community, the school board and the student body as a whole, which is something you don’t get at a lot of places,” said Wenninger, 52. “The student-athletes at Cornwall-Lebanon are hard-working kids. They want to be taught. We hope to have that same success, on and off the court.
“We were blessed,” added Wenninger. “When I resigned, it was just personal stuff. I thought it was time for me to get out.”
“They had a great run,” said Groff of the earlier Wenninger era. “His record was incredible in those four years. I was coaching boys’ basketball at the time (at Cedar Crest), and I always liked Will. He’s a great guy. He’s a good person.”
Wenninger replaces Jim Donmoyer, who had been the Falcons’ head coach over the past nine years. Donmoyer stepped away from the position at the end of last season, following a somewhat controversial parting of the ways.
Under Donmoyer, Cedar Crest went 151-82 over the last nine years. Donmoyer’s Falcons won Lancaster-Lebanon Section One championships in 2018-19, 2016-17 and 2015-16, and also captured league crowns in 2014-15 and 2016-18.
“First and foremost, we want to establish the kind of culture that we want to have with a program,” said Wenninger, a graduate of Pen Argyl High School and Lafayette College. “We have to go in there and create a positive culture.”
Last season, the Falcons compiled a somewhat disappointing 11-11 overall mark. Cedar Crest did not qualify for the postseason.
Under Wenninger, the Falcons will return eight of their top nine players from a year ago.
“To be honest, I don’t know a lot about them,” said Wenninger of the current crop of Falcons. “I’d have them once a year, or once every two years, as an offcial. But as an official, you have one-third of the floor as your primary coverage area, and that’s all you’re really focused on.”
“Girls’ basketball is extremely important and very popular at our school,” said Groff. “The numbers from Grades One and Two, and all the way up, are strong. There’s a lot of interest.
“Right now, there’s a (varsity) team that played hard,” Groff added.” There’s talent there. Girls’ basketball at Cedar Crest is a very high-profile sport. I think Will’s very excited about the opportunity.”
Wenninger possesse a vast knowledge of experience, from a variety of levels.
Since coaching the Hershey girls from 2004-07, Wenninger has been a basketball referee on the Division Two, Division Three and high school levels. He has also coached basketball at Bermudian Springs and Annville-Cleona High Schools and East Stroudsburg and Lafayette College.
“I did miss it,” said Wenninger of coaching. “The last few springs I had an opportunity to coach my grand-daughter at the club level, and I got the itch again. It’s (Cedar Crest) a nice opportunity to develop relationships with student-athletes and hopefully add to their school experience.”
“Will’s one of those guys who’s a lifer, when it comes to basketball,” said Groff. “He can’t get away from it. He has so much experience. He’s coached at so many different levels. It seems like he had a lot of success in officiating. He wants to get back to teaching kids again. I’ve enjoyed this process, just talking to Will.”