Photo By Michael Johnson
Despite leading the Wayland-Cohocton boys basketball program to its first-ever Livingston title and first sectional crown in 17 years, head coach Bob Skoczylas is in search of a new job, a victim of Way-Co school budget cuts.
Successful Way-Co coach has job axed
WAYLAND — You would think after recently enjoying the greatest basketball season in school-history, Wayland-Cohocton hoops coach Bob Skoczylas could sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Because of recent school cuts, Skoczylas, an eight-year physical education teacher, and three-sport coach, is searching for a new job.
“I really enjoyed my time at Way-Co,” said Skoczylas. “The character of all of students in the Way-Co middle school made it fun to go to work every day. I was spoiled because of this reason. How many people can say they enjoy going to work day in and day out? I have developed as a coach and person because of my experiences at Wayland and I thank my administrators for the opportunity for a young twenty something kid to do so. I will miss my co-workers as well. I have worked with special people over the years who have helped me develop my own philosophy of teaching and coaching.”
Skoczylas, who played high school basketball in Alden, was a standout collegiate basketball player at Brockport State finishing his career with 1,025 points (13th all-time) while graduating in 2002.
It was that following fall where Skoczylas ended up in Wayland, a place he knew nothing about prior to his first interview.
“I had to MapQuest the directions for my first interview,” chuckled Skoczylas. “I hope I was able to be a great role model for my students and players throughout my years. It was truly a fun ride.”
In his seven years as varsity basketball coach, Skoczylas guided the Golden Eagles to a 79-72 record — but impressively went 48-18 the last three years including 20-3 last winter as they captured the program’s first-ever Livingston title and first sectional crown in 17 years.
“This season’s experiences will last a lifetime,” said Skoczylas. “Those boys were an absolute joy to coach and be around every day. The sectional run was the most memorable experience I have ever had whether it was coaching or playing. The three weeks of sectionals was something this group of boys deserved. The amount of work they put in for years paid off. This group of special young men will be talked about at the dinner table for decades in the Wayland community and rightfully so. The support they received from the community and especially their families throughout the season was second to none.”
While Way-Co piled up the wins, they also piled up some special accolades during Skoczylas’ tenure.
This past season senior guard Evan Englert was named LCN Super-18 Co-Player of the Year, the first-ever top selection from the Way-Co boys’ program. Way-Co was named NYS Scholar Athlete Award recipients six consecutive years, something Skoczylas says “Is our second main goal every year after getting to (the Blue Cross Arena) which I am very proud of.”
The Golden Eagles were also Steuben County Sportsmanship Award winners the past two years and also won the LCAA Sportsmanship award.
Skoczylas was a two-time winner of the Section V Tom Downey Coach of the Year award, including this past winter, where he was also selected as the LCN Coach of the Year, along with York’s Eddie Orman Jr.
Englert, the Way-Co Class Valedictorian and true spirit to the character of the Golden Eagles’ athletic program, says he was shocked to hear the new of Skoczylas leaving.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said a disappointed Englert. “I never thought for a second that they would let him go. I was shocked — it’s unreal. He’s done so much for all of us. It really is very sad.”
Like many others, Englert truly appreciated all the time and effort that Skoczylas put in.
“He’s been there ever since I entered middle school,” said Evan.
“It’s tough knowing that he’s leaving because he’s been such a huge part of our success. He would literally stay up all night to watch film and get us prepared. He was very proud of his preparation, and every one knew he had us prepared and always ready for our next opponent. I don’t think he ever slept that entire last month.”
Englert said Skoczylas, who also coached modified football and modified baseball, not only preached how important character was on the playing surface, but off from it as well.
“He talked to our team all the time about how we should carry ourselves on and off the floor,” said Evan. “He told us how important it was to keep our grades up and how we should always be respectful to our classmates and teachers. He always preached that. He was much more than a basketball coach to us all.”
Skoczylas was the first to pass out kudos to several people that were helpful during his time in Wayland.
“Our athletic staff is very strong,” said Skoczylas. “I have witnessed plenty of coaches here at Wayland who are organized and dedicated to giving their athletes a special experience. Two people that stick out in my mind are Steve Wager, former boys basketball coach and current baseball coach, and Jeff Englert, someone who has coached varsity sports for over 20 years here. I felt comfortable asking both of these two outstanding coaches questions and their answers were honest and they both saw the whole picture. I would also like to mention Jim Burke the former head coach at Prattsburgh and a Wayland community member. Our friendship and his guidance has made me a better coach but also a better person. If you know Coach Burke you understand what I am talking about.”
While Skoczylas certainly isn’t thrilled about losing his job, he’s very appreciative of the opportunity was given.
“I would like to thank all of the parents over the years for their help and dedication to the program,” Skoczylas said.
“I ask a lot out of my parents for fundraising help and they have always stepped up to the plate. These parents have also contributed to the maturity of my players throughout my years at Way-Co.
“I have been blessed to coach great kids throughout my stay. It is of no surprise to me that their parents are a class act. You hear these horror stories at other schools in which parents will not let the coach and I can honestly say that has not happened in my stay.”