Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/6/11
By Scott Johnston and Chris Goldberg
Jef Hewlings, who built several Philly boys’ lacrosse programs into powers in the 1980s and 1990s, resigned today as head coach at Emmaus after leading the Green Hornets to four league titles and two appearances in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) quarterfinals in his four-year term.
Hewlings cited time constraints caused by his job as the major reason for stepping down.
Hewlings guided Emmaus to a record of 66-22 and won the Penn Valley League crown in 2008 and then the Lehigh Valley Conference titles from 2009-11. His Hornets claimed the District 11 championship in 2009 and 2010, while also reaching the second round of the PIAA tourney.
In each of those seasons Emmaus defeated Lower Merion in the first round of states and then fell to Conestoga in the second round.
“It is with heartfelt appreciation to all of you that I inform you that I will not be returning as a coach of the Emmaus High program next season,” said Hewlings in an email sent out to the Emmaus Lacrosse community on Monday afternoon. “These past four years have been some of the most rewarding of my coaching life, and I will certainly miss the relationships I’ve had the chance to build since I joined the program in 2007.
“Each of you has, in some way, impacted me for the better, and I consider myself fortunate to have been part of this program.”
Hewlings met with Shaun Murray, assistant athletics/activities director on Monday and informed of him of his decision. He also met with all of the returning underclassmen from this year’s team for approximately 20 minutes after school.
The 53-year-old cited time restraints caused by his job as the major reason for stepping down.
“The biggest reason at this point is I didn’t think I could give the program what it deserved to be successful,” he said by phone Monday evening. “There’s only 24 hours in a day and this season was becoming a grind for me. I didn’t want to short-change the program.”
Hewlings, who lives in Fleetwood (Berks County) and works in the Philadelphia area, said the decision to step down came about halfway through this season when he felt like “the program would be in better hands with someone else.”
Hewlings, a Ridley grad who played college lacrosse for West Chester, helped build fellow Central League member Penncrest into a power when he coached there from 1989-99. In his last two seasons at Penncrest the Tigers reached the semifinals of the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association playoffs.
Hewlings also coached at Malvern Prep and was an assistant there from 1981-82 before taking the helm and building that program into an Inter-Ac League power.
In 2000 Hewlings started the program at Oneonta High in central New York. He also was an assistant at Hartwick College for five years before coming to Emmaus.
Despite the loss of 13 seniors, including four Division 1 players off last year’s squad, the Hornets still enjoyed a strong season in 2011, winning its third straight LVC title and finishing 15-6 overall. Emmaus went into the District 11 playoffs as the top seed, but were stunned in the semifinals by Nazareth, 12-11, in overtime.
In his first season at Emmaus in 2008, Hewlings’ team went 16-3 and repeated as Penn Valley Lacrosse League champions in the final year of the league’s existence.
Emmaus will lose six seniors to graduation – Dan Kinek, Joe Magargal, John McGeary, Hugh Boyd, Sunny Yu, Trevor Davidson – but return a number of talented underclassmen , including six of its top seven scorers next season in sophomore Zack Schleicher (35 goals/12 assists, 47 points), junior Travis Schmidt (22/8, 30),junior Tyler Kennedy (20/9, 29), sophomore Marc Feldman (15/13, 28) and junior Cole Campbell (17/11, 28).
Hewlings also is a board member for the Philadelphia lacrosse Association who heads the New Start Program, which helps build new lacrosse programs in underserved areas.