Fisher leaves Ephrata to take over at MC

By on August 30, 2017
Former Ephrata Coach Charlie Fisher (center) talks to his team during a timeout in a game last season. The popular second-year coach recently resigned from Ephrata to take over the Manheim Central program

Former Ephrata Coach Charlie Fisher (center) talks to his team during a timeout in a game last season. The popular second-year coach recently resigned from Ephrata to take over the Manheim Central program

The decision was admittedly agonizing.

But when Charlie Fisher weighed all the pros and cons of becoming the head basketball coach at Manheim Central, or remaining in the same post at Ephrata, there was little doubt which way he would go in the end.

Last week, he turned in his resignation at Ephrata after a very successful two-year stint. And Monday night, he was officially approved as head coach at Manheim Central.

An MC assistant for six years under head coaches Tim Decker (2009-10) and Chris Sherwood (2010-15), Fisher had a full plate as he continued to teach sixth-grade social studies and coach golf at Manheim Central while coaching the Mounts. In addition, he and his wife, Aimee, are expecting their first child in December.

Reached Tuesday, Fisher said “it was a little bit of everything” that played a part in his decision to take the Manheim Central job, which was vacated recently by Sherwood, who stepped down to become the Barons’ Assistant A.D.

“First and foremost when you put six years into a program, you get invested,” he said of his years at Manheim as an assistant. “Not only did I get invested in the program, I got invested in the District. I coached baseball, I coach golf, and I’ve taught there…I’m going into my ninth year. And I teach sixth grade social studies, and I love it. That’s a job that I wasn’t willing to part ways with. The golf job that I have is something I was begging to do since I got there. It is the greatest most relaxing coaching position you can think of, and when you look at those reasons, and you take the time that I invested in growing the Manheim program, the professional piece pointed to Manheim, and with my wife and I expecting a kid in December, the family side of things pointed in that direction too.”

Fisher leaves Ephrata after guiding the Mounts to their first winning season since 2005. After a 3-19 season in year one, he led the Mounts to a 16-10 record in 2016-17, which including berths in both the Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three 5A playoffs.

He met with the Ephrata players last Friday and delivered the news that he would not be returning for a third season.

“It was tough to say good-bye because a high school kid is thinking in the moment, and I saw those seniors who were at the meeting,” he said. “I’m just thinking, these basketball players that invested so much time, I’m telling them I’m not going to be there. Now they are left without a head coach for the first month of their senior school year, and that was tough. I put myself in their shoes and I was thinking how I would react if I were a senior. But the kids were really supportive, my coaches were supportive, but the short-term two-year thing also has to be tough for a kid like that to wrap their brain around. I totally understood, and I told them that, but I just wanted to give them my reasons. I’m invested in the Manheim community, in more ways than just coaching.”

He leaves an Ephrata program that is set up to challenge for a Section Two title this year with all but two players from last year’s squad eligible to return.

“I sit there and I look at what we did at Ephrata, and those were awesome things,” he continued. “And I was invested in Ephrata in those two years, but to piggyback on this, I’m a teacher first, and I actually said this to my guys in our meeting when I told them I was stepping down. I told them ‘if you ever have a job that you love, hang onto it.’

“All of that together outweighed the fact that I knew at Ephrata next year we were going to have the potential to have a really good year,” he continued. And I grew to really enjoy coaching there. It was one of those things where you look at everything and my wife and I just felt that the pros were definitely in Manheim’s favor.”

Considering the team and players he leaves behind, Fisher admitted it was a tough decision.

“It’s one of those things that you can’t pass up an opportunity for something that you are hoping is going to happen,,” he said. “But it made it insanely tougher, considering where we were one year, where we were in year two, and where we could be in year three. And then you add in the fact that we’re going to be in the same section…I’ll be coaching against those guys twice, and competing for playoff spots against those guys.

“It’s one of those things, when you make a decision like that when kids are involved, you are going to feel bad either way,” he continued. “When you are making a decision that impacts kids, it makes it harder. That’s what made it tougher.”

Asked to reflect on his two seasons at Ephrata, Fisher credited the players for the turn-around.

“I give my guys all the credit in that, when I came, I don’t know how the program was run but I do know that I’m crazy intense,” he said. “And a lot of that intensity that first year was probably a little shellshocking for some of the guys. And they listened. Last summer, we went with a plan, and it’s not always easy to do, but the guys invested in a plan that we were going to keep the game in the 30s and 40s. And they bought in. I don’t know if they were always OK with it, but they were content with practicing defense for an hour. And they listened. It was fun and we won a lot of games. We were 30 seconds away from qualifying for States, and the bulk of that team is back.

“But the four seniors that left, Matt McGillan, Nate Fassnacht, Micah Krauter and Larson Kopp, played a huge role,” he continued. “Matt and Nate were present for three wins but they kept us competitive. They kept the young guys interested, and believe it or not after that 3-19 year everyone of those young guys was ready to get back in the gym three weeks later. They knew what they needed to do to get better and they put in so much work and bought into what the coaches were having to say. We had a fun year, and I’m just hoping that they take the experiences they had and they run with it. Whenever I take a job, my ultimate goal is to make that program better than when I got there, regardless how long that is. And I left Ephrata with the satisfaction that in my two years I think we made the basketball program better.”

Despite his short stint in Purple and Gold, Fisher said he will always view the two years at Ephrata as special ones.

“I loved my time at Ephrata,” he said. “You look at your decision and you think, what if I would have stayed on at Manheim as an assistant with Sherwood for two more years? Who knows…Sherwood would have done 10 more years then. It was one of those things when I took the job at Ephrata, I saw an opportunity to become a head coach and I knew I grinded and busted my butt to learn everything there was to learn about basketball. And I thought, hey, let’s see if I can kickstart a program. Mr. Sweigart and the rest of the Ephrata administration gave me that opportunity and it was an awesome two years. I told my guys, ‘you always remember your first…and I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for you guys’ because I experienced all my firsts as a head coach with them. And I’ll never forget that.”

Fisher takes over a Manheim Central program that graduated eight seniors, including star Taylor Funk, from last year’s 21-win team.


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