Claysburg-Kimmel has gone 42 years since its last winning season in boys basketball, but there are hopes better times are not far off for the Bulldogs. The latest positive sign was a four-point loss to perennially strong Juniata Valley on Friday.
The Mirror's Philip Cmor recently caught up with C-K coach Josh Klausman.
Mirror: With Claysburg's history, why did you decide to take this job?
Klausman: It's a challenge. To be honest, before I took the job, I didn't know anybody out here. Since I've been here, I fell in love with the school. There's a great group of kids. Sometimes you want to beat your head against the wall, when you've come up through the Keith program, the Altoona program, even coaching at Tyrone. Everywhere I've been, we've had success. Winning's in my blood. It was really an eye-opener out here, but it's getting better.
Mirror: Why do you believe you are on the edge of turning things around?
Klausman: One of the big things is, when I started here, we had a lot of kids out for high school basketball, and we were trying to teach stuff they would normally learn in third or fourth grade along the lines of the fundamentals, the overall knowledge of the game, basketball IQ. It's trickling down now through our junior high system. We have 33 kids right now in our junior high basketball program. It's trickling down even into the elementary program. Kids are being shown things a little earlier, not just playing games, but learning the fundamentals. A lot of the credit for that goes to Jim Clancy, who I grew up with. With the junior high program, he's done an awesome job with those kids. Now stuff they'd be learning in 11th grade, they're learning in sixth or seventh.
Mirror: There's a very short list of Class A schools that can claim to have successful basketball and wrestling programs going at the same time. How are you trying to buck that trend?
Klausman: We always say we never want to compete with other programs in our school. But there's a limited number of kids in our school. We graduate 60, 70 kids. Obviously, we don't want to see anything happen to our wrestling program, or any other program. But there's only so many spots in any sport. If you're a basketball powerhouse, you only have five or six kids that play. You want to have more opportunities for more kids. That's what we're getting at with numbers. We're exposing them to the game, just letting them see what it's all about. If it's something you might like, great. If not, at least you tried. I'd rather have 10 or 11 kids that are wholeheartedly in this than 60 or 70 bodies.
Mirror: Were you the athletic director when Jeff Appleman was hired as girls coach?
Klausman: It was shortly before I took over.
Mirror: Does it help to have someone with his record and background working in your athletic program now?
Klausman: Absolutely. About two weeks ago he picked up victory No. 500. It is good. His son actually played for my brother and my father at Hollidaysburg, so I've known Jeff for years. It's nice to have a guy that's been around the game 26 or 28 years when you're struggling with something. The more eyes you have looking at something, the more it can help. It's nice to have someone like that in your back pocket. Lois [Jeff's wife] is always good to bounce ideas off, as well.
Mirror: Your father [Jim] is an official/umpire and coach. Your older brother [Jarrod] coaches now and was a pretty successful athlete. What was it like growing up in that environment as far as athletics?
Klausman: I could not imagine anything different. Having a brother two years older than me and a brother two years younger than me, when we were in fourth, fifth, sixth grade, my father was also a junior high basketball coach, I kind of felt bad for my mom, because there were probably 10 or 12 basketball schedules to learn in the winter time, and it wasn't organized. There were two, three, four games a night, every night. And not just basketball, but baseball and everything. We were always running from one game to another, and, if we weren't playing, we were going to watch my dad's games. My brothers and I were the definition of gym rats growing up, 3 or 4 years old. My father was Paul Hasson's assistant at Tyrone, so, when we were really young, we'd go with the Hasson boys on all the bus trips. We learned from very young the worth of athletics.