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Monheim chosen to suceed Cook

February 13, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chris Monheim finally has his dream coaching position.

Monheim, 34, of Chambersburg, has been given the reins of the highly successful girls track & field and cross country programs at Chambersburg Area Senior High School. The Chambersburg Area School Board approved the move at its meeting Wednesday night.

Yet, as excited as Monheim is about the opportunity, it's one he certainly would have preferred to wait a little longer to get.

The position became available when Tim Cook, who coached both Trojans girls teams for nearly 30 years, and his wife, Susan, were killed in an automobile accident in December. They were both 49 years old.

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"This definitely wasn't how I wanted to get the position," said Monheim, a second-grade teacher at King Street Elementary, who served as an assistant coach for the Chambersburg boys cross country team in 2000 and 2001. "It's definitely a big opportunity, but one I was hoping to get somewhere down the line, more like when someone retired. Obviously, it all came along a lot quicker than anyone expected."

Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Ed Sponseller said Monheim is the right man for the job.

"We wanted to recruit Chris (after Cook's death), but he came forward on his own and expressed interest," said Sponseller. "We all realize that nobody can replace Tim Cook, but if anyone can, it would be Chris Monheim.

"I have the utmost respect for him as a teacher and him as a person. I don't know of a better person for the job. We're all excited about it."

"It needs to be done," Monheim said, "and I feel confident that the success of the program can continue."

Cook's success was legendary. As the only girls cross country coach Chambersburg had ever had, his teams posted a dual-meet mark of 225-30 and won two state titles, nine District 3 crowns and 11 league championships. On the track, his squads went 194-34-2 with a district title and nine league crowns.

As Cook did, Monheim brings an impressive running resume to the table. A 1987 graduate of Swissvale High School (now Woodland Hills) in Pittsburgh, Monheim was a prep star in both cross country and track and went on to earn All-American status in cross country at Shippensburg University. His success has continued as a top age-group performer on the regional road-racing circuit.

Yet, Monheim said it was Cook's unrelenting positive attitude that made the difference with his teams, which have continually been the two most popular girls sports in Chambersburg numbers wise.

That's the approach the new coach hopes to continue.

"In the 10 years I knew Tim, I never heard him say a negative thing. Everything was always as positive as it could be, and that philosophy went a long way toward his teams' success and the turnout he got. Kids wanted to be on his teams," Monheim said. "The positive approach is the same philosophy that I hope to bring to the program as well.

"I think we'll get big numbers again, and then we'll see how things go. Once the season gets rolling, I think we'll be in good shape."

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