Kris Holtzer doesn't forget his days at Lock Haven University.
In fact, when he took over the Delaware Valley boys' basketball program five years ago, he knew what needed to be done.
Holtzer, an alum of the high school, welcomed the challenge.
He knew times would be tough.
Downright challenging, at times.
"We had some pretty good talent when I got here, but we had some off-court issues," he said. "I knew that's not the way I wanted to run our program. I wanted good kids, good role models for our school, who were willing to listen and follow directions. We knew that's the kind of athlete we wanted."
Similar to his days at Lock Haven, Holtzer jumped into the program with both feet - hoping to rebuild the Warriors.
"That's the one thing I learned from coach (John) Wilson and coach (Doug) Wingard was to do things the right way," he said. "You had to do the right things off the court, do the right things in the classroom and do things the proper way."
Holtzer was a pretty talented guard for the Bald Eagles.
He was a 1,000-point scorer, and was known for his pin-point accuracy. He could stop on a dime and release a sweet-looking jumper right over an opponent.
"My sophomore year, we had as much talent as we've had in all of my four years at Lock Haven, but the attitude wasn't the best at times," Holtzer said. "My senior year is when we made the playoffs. That team, we were all so close, and really enjoyed hanging out with each other. We busted out butts in practice, and the results showed in the games. That work ethic, it got us to the postseason."
Today, Delaware Valley - runner-up in the District 2-4 bracket -starts play in the PIAA Class AAAA postseason.
Really, though, the Warriors got a taste. Del Valley, from the Milford area, had a play-in game Tuesday against District I's Council Rock North.
"Honestly, no one had us to win that one," he said.
That's where the Lock Haven principles came into play.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in your teammates - your extended family.
"When I looked at our sidelines, I think they believed that if we played good basketball, we could win this game," Holtzer said. "We told the kids at the beginning of the season that we could play with any team. We believed that."
That's where Holtzer's impact could be felt.
"We have a program of kids that set a good example on the court and in the classroom," he said. "At the beginning in my early years, it did get frustrating at times because you wanted to win for the good kids who worked hard at practice. But in the long run, you know that you are going in the right direction in terms of the overall program."
He started a feeder program.
"We didn't have a bitty program when I started," he said. "That's something we really focused on. And it has paid off for us. Our JV team is pretty good. Our freshmen team had a real nice season, and our junior-high programs are pretty successful."
More importantly, he surrounded himself with good people.
"I wanted to surround myself with people who know me and who I can trust," Holtzer said. "My dad is my assistant coach, and I have guys that played for me on the coaching staff. I also have some guys that I played with that are seventh- and eighth-grade coaches. Those are the type of people that I want our kids to see, and be around."
He never forgets his Lock Haven roots.
Former teammate Eddie Christiano was at the last game.
He keeps in contact with Brian Reiben, Chris Ruff, Joe Walker, Jeromy Yetter and Brian Hanna - all guys he played with at Lock Haven.
"These guys are my best friends," he said. "We built that over our years at Lock Haven, and those are bonds that last for a lifetime. My teammates are all important people in my life."
Today, Delaware Valley heads to Milton Hershey to face off with Chambersburg, the champ of District III.
"It's going to be a challenge, and our kids know that," he said. "Chambersburg is the champ of District III, and that's where some of the best basketball is played in the state. But like I told the kids, I believe that we can win. I believe we match up well with them, and I believe we have a shot. I feel confident, and I hope our kids believe as well."
Tom Fox is sports editor at The Express. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.