Monheim has tough task ahead

February 13, 2003|by ANDY MASON

To say Chris Monheim has big shoes to fill as Chambersburg High's new girls track and cross country coach is an understatement.

It's also probably a bit unfair to him - and to former longtime Trojans coach Tim Cook, who was killed in an automobile accident last December.

"He's definitely not going to be replaced," said Monheim. "And I'm not going to attempt to replace him by any means."


That might be impossible.

Cook was a Pennsylvania coaching legend - the Joe Paterno of the state's high school running community. His teams went a combined 419-64-2 with countless championship banners. His memory may live on forever.

"I've been to some indoor meets and people see the Chambersburg jackets and shirts, and it's just amazing how many people from across the state who come up and say something positive about Tim Cook," said Monheim. "Everyone knew him."

When spring track officially begins on March 3, Monheim will be 0-0-0. This is his first head coaching job.

Yet there may be no one better suited for the transition, which, obviously, won't be an easy one.

Cook was admired, if not worshipped, by everyone he touched. And Monheim, a standout runner and former assistant boys coach at Chambersburg, was one of them.

"There was nobody better at mentally preparing their runners than Tim," said Monheim. "From his top runners to his bottom runners, they all had positive attitudes going into race situations. And that's something I think I can continue.

"It will make the transition easier for the kids than bringing in someone else who wasn't familiar with how Tim did things. All the kids I've dealt with so far have been responding favorably."

That the rest of Chambersburg's track coaching staff has remained intact, should, in turn, make the transition easier for Monheim.

"All the coaches have been there for a while," Monheim said. "I definitely don't feel like I'm going into this without any support."

Still, it's going to take a while for things to feel right again on the Trojan oval without Cook there to hold down the fort.

All that remains is his lasting memory, as the new leader attempts to pick up the pieces and carry on in a similar direction.

"It's definitely a bit awkward because of what's happened, and I feel a little pressure because of the situation," said Monheim. "The biggest thing, inevitably, is that there's going to be some change. He's the only one who's ever done it.

"But all the feedback I've received so far has been positive, and I'm confident the program can continue to be succesful."

Andy Mason is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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