news 3 days ago

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Derek Null joins Penn State Mont Alto men's basketball coaching staff

The Record Herald, Waynesboro, Pa. — Lee Goodwin The Record Herald, Waynesboro, Pa.

Nov. 08-- Nov. 8--Derek Null played basketball for the Waynesboro Indians. He played for two seasons at Penn State Mont Alto and spent two more years as team manager for the Penn State men's team.

The past four years Null was the Waynesboro Area Middle School junior varsity boys' team. And now, the 2011 Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate got the call to coach at the college level.

Null enters his first season as assistant head coach of the Penn State Mont Alto men's basketball team. In so doing, Null's life comes full circle. He played for Mont Alto coach Jack Schenzel and now comes back as a member of Schenzel's staff. In fact, Null was a member of Schenzel's first squad. Schenzel is in his ninth year at the helm of the PSU Mont Alto men's basketball program.

"I always found it interesting that my goal in high school and college was to come back to Waynesboro to teach and coach," said Null, who is in his fifth year as a social studies teacher at WASHS.

The Nittany Lions tip off the 2019-20 season at home in the 8th annual John F. Benchoff Tournament on Friday and Saturday. Mont Alto plays Williamson on Friday at 8 p.m. and Johnson & Wales at 3 p.m., Saturday.

"I never really thought about coaching in college until I went to the main campus and was working with coach (Tom) Chambers and his staff. I got to see the game from a different perspective," Null said. "Ryan Devlin is someone I also worked with at Penn State. I learned from him. He was an energetic guy to be around, positive and knowledgeable. He's so connected. He knows a lot of people in the game, working summer camps. He's been around, and people know when he talks about the game he knows what he's talking about."

Devlin was on Chambers' staff when Null was a student at Penn State University. Devlin spent a year coaching at Siena College as an assistant coach under former Mount St. Mary's coach Jamion Christian. Devlin is now coaching with Christian at George Washington University, a NCAA Division I school that plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Null graduated from college in 2015 and immediately began teaching and coaching. Null still teaches at the high school, but he'll be making a different commute in the evenings.

"When I played at Mont Alto, I understood the game from a student-athlete perspective," said Null. "(Schenzel) is definitely doing a great job there. He can't give athletic scholarships, so what he sells is playing competitive basketball and earning a Penn State degree. He's had success and going to national tournaments. He wants kids to graduate. He wants to mold young men. He wants to make a difference. It's basically Waynesboro 2.0 in a sense."

That's a reference to the boys' hoops program at Waynesboro, under the coaching of Tom Hoffman, who enters his 20th season with the Indians.

"Ryan is another testament to Tommy," Null said. "He cranks out guys who are passionate about basketball."

Since Null returned to Waynesboro to build a life with wife McKenzie, a Chambersburg High School graduate, he had been on Schenzel's radar.

"Coach Jack has pretty much asked me every year. I always felt like I was supposed to be in Waynesboro. I was enjoying my time teaching and coaching here. For some reason, I felt different about it. My wife was kind of excited about the opportunity. We went back and forth about it. We've been married for a year, and she knows college coaching is something new."

Null added that the more he experienced basketball the more he wanted to continue his growth as a coach to a higher level. That brought him to the small Penn State campus in Mont Alto.

"In the month I've been here, I think I've made an impact on the student-athletes, like Waynesboro did for me," said Null.

But his experience at the middle school has taught him valuable lessons about coaching.

"The biggest thing I learned is you realize how important fundamentals are to the game and you learn how to teach the game," he said. "There's something special about Waynesboro basketball and the brotherhood that it is. It really changes people's lives, and it changed mine. It's a testament to coach Hoffman. I wanted to get back to a program and a town that gave me a lot."

Null hasn't been standing still either. He has a master's degree from California University of Pennsylvania in intercolleiate athletic administration and is working toward another master's from Cal U in administrative program for principals.

Contact Lee Goodwin at 717-762-2151, lgoodwin@therecordherald.com or on Twitter: @LeeG_RH

___

(c)2019 The Record Herald, Waynesboro, Pa.

Visit The Record Herald, Waynesboro, Pa. at www.therecordherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.