TOWAMENCIN – Derek Brooks credits coach Ron Hassler for establishing a new tone in North Penn’s basketball program this season.
“He’s instilled a winning (mentality), and we’re not used to that,” Brooks said. “He’s a very good coach, he knows what he’s doing, and he always keeps us (on track) no matter what we’re doing.
“We’re always well-prepared, we’re always ready to play.”
Prior to Wednesday afternoon’s practice, the senior forward presented Hassler with a commemorative basketball, honoring the first-year coach for attaining win number 500 of a stellar career.
“It’s pretty cool,” Brooks said. “We weren’t really here for most of the wins, but hey, we got him his 500th one. We’d really like to get him the 501st win.”
The milestone win came on Friday night over Pennridge when Hassler was not on the sidelines, but the Knights’ coach – who was attending his daughter’s Senior Night game - wanted this group of athletes to be part of his historic win.
“Wins are nice, but sometimes success isn’t always measured by wins,” Hassler said to his players before accepting the basketball. “This year we had 11 wins, and we struggled for all 11. You worked harder than any team I’ve had for those 11 wins. I’m quite honored to have you as the team that got me the 500th.”
Hassler brought a dazzling resume when he took over the helm at North Penn. It included a 489-192 record with 10 districts titles and a trip to the state championship game.
“It’s been more of a struggle this year than many of my years,” Hassler said. “It’s not on their part. It’s just the changes they had to go through.
“Wins are important, but the success of the season is measured by what these guys are going to be doing 15 years from now. They’re going to be contributing to their community, they’re going to be good family members. I was honored to have them get number 500 for me.”
Athletic Director Donald ‘Doc’ Ryan and Principal Burton Hynes also were in attendance at the presentation.
“We knew we had an experienced coach when we hired him,” Hynes said. “We’re very pleased that the 500th win comes in a North Penn game.
“I think it’s a testament to his coaching that he wasn’t able to be there that night, and the team still went out and won the game for him. We’re proud of him, and we’re looking forward to win number 600. We’ll go for 501 on Friday night.”
That will be a daunting task.
The Knights, who are the 32nd and final seed in the District One AAAA Tournament, will travel to Chester on Friday night to face the defending state champion Clippers.
“This is what we want our program to get to, and I guess there’s no better time than in our first year to let the younger guys see what this is all about,” Hassler said. “This is where we want to be.
“A couple of years from now we want to be playing them on our regular schedule. We’re just not quite ready at this point, but we have to jump in sooner or later.”