By Brad Morris
WILLIAMSPORT — With deep family roots at Westfall stretching back to the days of consolidation, Kyle Joseph knew the time was right to return home and lead the Mustangs onto the hardwood of The Dome in boys basketball.
“I was happy at Lancaster with teaching and being an assistant coach, so I wasn’t going to leave for just anything,” Joseph said. “I wanted to get back to being a head coach eventually and having the opportunity to come home and lead Westfall was special to me.
“My mom taught in the district for 30 years and my grandfather was on the first school board after the consolidation of the township schools, so we take a lot of pride in Westfall and our community.”
Joseph, 35, received the official seal of approval earlier this week by the district’s Board of Education and then met with the Mustangs for the first time on Wednesday as head coach. His message to his new team was simple.
“We are going to compete and learning how to compete goes beyond the game of the basketball,” he said. “We’re going to compete in the weight room, when we run sprints and have open gyms. We are going to compete when we play three-on-three or one-on-one and obviously during our practices and games. We’re also going to compete in the classroom and to be the best teammate and best person that you can be.
“Life is about competition and we want to teach our kids these lessons so they can be successful in life. When the community comes to watch us on Tuesday night, Friday night or Saturday night in The Dome, we want them to see a team that is constantly competing, playing hard, playing scrappy and is a team that they can be proud of.”
A 2006 graduate of Westfall, Joseph attended the University of Akron, where he worked as a student-manager for four years and then served as a graduate assistant for two seasons.
After coaching at the collegiate level during stops in Idaho and North Carolina, Joseph moved back to the Buckeye State for family reasons and served as head coach at Greenville High School for four seasons.
Since then, the Joseph family relocated to the southside of the Columbus metro area, where he has coached AAU basketball and spent this past season as an assistant coach at Lancaster.
Joseph discussed some of his general philosophy on both ends of the court, although he will tailor how the Mustangs play on the hardwood this winter to the talent they have on the court.
“I generally like to get after it on defense, pressuring the basketball and trying to create some turnovers and easy shots in transition,” he said. “Most coaches will tell you that how successful you are starts with how your team plays on the defensive end, which starts with your level of communication and togetherness playing together.
“We want to play as fast as what our skill level will allow. That doesn’t mean we are going to shoot fast. We want to get the basketball from side-to-side and inside-and-out. There are studies that show that if you get multiple touches going from side-to-side and paint touches, that your chances of scoring goes up.”
The Mustangs are coming off back-to-back winning seasons under previous coach Christian Meister, who resigned after the season to spend more time with his family.
Westfall, historically, has had trouble sustaining success on the hardwood. When it comes to running a program, Joseph believes in the building blocks leading to consistent success.
“I’m going to be very involved with our program, going down to the biddy level in elementary through high school,” he said. “If you want to sustain success at the high school level, then you have to start with a strong biddy and junior high program that is going to keep kids involved with playing basketball, developing their fundamentals and skills and getting them ready to eventually play varsity basketball.”