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Pa. coach resigns from paid spot to volunteer

April 07, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Bob Thomas will remain coach of the Chambersburg High School baseball team - he just won't be getting paid for it anymore.

The school board is scheduled to act on the coach's resignation Wednesday night. At the same meeting the board is expected to appoint him as the volunteer coach of the Trojans.

Paradoxically, the reason he will give up his coaching paycheck is a matter of money.

"It's because the state retirement board won't allow you to draw your retirement and be a paid coach," said Thomas, 62, after hitting flies and slapping grounders to his players at the end of Monday's practice.

"Wellness and fitness is what we call it now. It used to be phys ed," he said of the teaching position he retired from last year after 37 years.

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Thomas is in his 34th season as the Trojans' baseball coach.

In 1984, his team brought home the state championship.

"We've been runner-up, I guess, once. We got beat about four times in the semis and four or five times we lost in the quarterfinals" of the state tournament, Thomas said.

"We won the district and we lost in the quarterfinals last year," Thomas said of the 1997 squad. This season the team is 1-1.

According to Thomas, under the rules of the Pennsylvania State Education Retirement System he could be a substitute teacher for up to 95 days without his retirement pay being affected. Being a paid coach is a different matter, although the position pays only a few thousand dollars.

He said another high school coach in the Harrisburg, Pa., area is facing a similar situation and may challenge the policy in court.

"I'm taking it one year at a time now. Healthwise, if I continue to feel OK, I'll continue doing it," Thomas said.

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