Cocalico’s DiMatteo, Wealand step down

By on February 29, 2016
Cocalico's Tony DiMatteo (left) and Travis Wealand both announced Monday they will be stepping down as head coach.

Cocalico’s Tony DiMatteo (top) and Travis Wealand (bottom) both announced Monday they will be stepping down as head coach.

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The local basketball coaching landscape will look a whole lot different next year.
Last Wednesday, Ephrata girls coach Mike Garman announced he is stepping down after 15 seasons at the helm. And Monday morning, it was a double whammy at Cocalico as girls coach Tony DiMatteo and boys coach Travis Wealand both announced their resignations.
DiMatteo, who took over a program that went 2-19 in 2010-11, just completed his fifth season at the helm, guiding the Lady Eagles to an 18-6 record and berths in both the L-L League and District Three playoffs. During his tenure, his teams finished second in their section four times and qualified for L-Ls and Districts four of the five years.
Cocalico was 76-45 under DiMatteo’s leadership.
But since taking the job five years ago, DiMatteo has moved from the classroom into the Cocalico administration as an assistant principal in the high school. Those demands, as well as finding time to spend with his own family, played a part in his decision to step down.
“The demands of being in Admin, and having a family are pretty much it,” DiMatteo said Monday. “When I took the job I said five years…it’s going to take five years to turn the program around and get it to where I’d feel comfortable. And I feel good about that. It’s hard. I love coaching and I love the kids, and things are working well.”
He said he met with his assistant coaches and his wife before coming to his decision.
“(The Administration) have been very kind and gracious,” he said. “They basically said the decision is mine for next year, but I met with my assistants and my wife and decided this was probably a good time to step down. There are some changes coming next year with three sections, and there are going to be a lot of new coaches in Section Two, so I thought this was a good time. Let the transition happen. I feel good about it, whoever takes over next. We have some things in place. We have a lot of experience and some good players returning. So it’s just a good time for a new coach to come in and implement their own styles.”
DiMatteo certainly didn’t rule out returning to the sidelines some day. For now, he’s content knowing the program is in much better shape now than when he started.
“I would hope it’s in a better place than when I got there,” he said. “I had great people working with me. The Administration has been super, the community has been super and more importantly the girls just gave me everything they possibly could. They would run through a wall for me and I’m proud to be their coach. It’s hard (to step away) because I bleed Blue and White, but I told them, I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be their guide if they need help…whatever they need.”
Wealand has been a part of the Cocalico basketball program for the last 15 seasons, including the past 10 as head coach. Under his leadership, Cocalico went 130-108, won three section titles (‘08-’09, ‘09-’10, and ‘10-’11) and appeared in one L-L League championship game (‘08-’09).
This past season which just was completed one week ago Monday, Cocalico went 18-7 to finish second in a highly-competitive Section Three race. The Eagles qualified for both the L-L League and District Three playoffs this year, and played a post-season game at the Giant Center in Hershey, a first for the program.
As for why Wealand made the decision to walk away at this time, he said it came down to his desire to spend more time with his wife and kids.
“It’s just time for me to be more available to my family,” he said. “Coaching just takes up an incredible amount of time, and I want to go into it 100 percent and just moving forward I knew this was the best decision for my family. My kids are getting older and are just more involved in more and more things. I want to be there for them and be able to see those things that they are doing too. I don’t want to miss that time.”
Wealand said he actually made the decision that this would be his last prior to the season.
“Yeah, my wife and I discussed it,” he said. “Coaching every year, out of respect to her and our family, I always have a conversation with her about the season after each year. I knew this was going to be my last one. It wasn’t a last-second decision or anything like that. The hardest part is (saying goodbye to) the players, and not being around those guys. They are great guys, and I’ll miss that tremendously. But I know it’s the right time.”
As talented and experienced as the Eagles were this year with seven seniors in the mix, the season did end on a rough note as Cocalico endured a dreadful shooting night in a 42-23 loss to Gettysburg in a District consolation game last Monday.
It certainly was a tough way to go out, Wealand said, but had no bearing on his decision.
“I’ve definitely never experienced something like that before, but that definitely didn’t have anything to do with (stepping down),” he said. “It made it a little more difficult seeing the kids being so frustrated at the end. But, it is the way the game goes, and we move on and our program will move forward.”
Cocalico’s program has come a long way since Wealand’s first year in which he started three freshmen. Since that time, the Eagles has become consistent contenders year in and year out, and are one of the most respected programs in the L-L League.
Wealand said he was blessed to be around great kids and great players.
“It’s about our kids,” he said. “It’s about how hard they work and about how they buy into what Cocalico basketball is about. I feel (former Coach Ryan) Axe did a great job prior to me having the opportunity. He had two section titles I believe, and we’ve had three more so in my 15 years of helping and being a head coach, I’ve been a part of five section championships, the league final berth and multiple district appearances. And we finally got to the Giant Center this year. I think our guys just understand what it takes to be successful. It all comes back to their hard work and the time they put in.”
As for the future, Wealand, who teaches in the Cocalico Middle School, didn’t indicate he’ll be back on the sidelines any time soon. He said he’ll take things a year at a time all the while enjoying his time away from the court with his family.
“It will definitely be different (not to be coaching) and will be an adjustment for us but I’m excited to be more available to my family,” he said. “Just to see them grow and see the things that they do, it’s going to be fun. It’s hard when you leave home and you know you are going to miss things (because of coaching). That really did eat at me over time. I just really believe in family and I know that I want to be there for them.
“My parents have been there for me through everything. They’ve been there through high school, college, and through my coaching. They are at every game and are so supportive, I just want to be there for my kids because I think that’s so important.”

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