Ehrensbeck, who has taught Instrumental Music at Harpurs-ville Central School for 23 years, also coached Boys Basketball at the school for 12 years.
Ehrensbeck said there are 286 Class C Schools in New York state and that his team ended up with a record of 23 and 2—a record good enough to send them all the way to the Championships.
“No team at Harpursville had ever gone that far, so it was a big honor for our girls’ team,” he said.
In the finals held at Hudson County Community College in Troy in March, the Harpursville girls’ team played against Gananda Central School from the Rochester area in the championship game.
Though they lost the game 61 to 51, the tournament director told Ehrensbeck that it was probably the best game of the whole weekend.
“The girls were disappointed, but we talked afterward and I told them, ‘sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. It stings right now, but six months from now you will probably think of it as one of the best experiences you are ever going to have,’” he said.
He also told them to enjoy the moment.
“And they did. They enjoyed every bit of it. So, in that way it was a win for everybody,” he added.
Ehrensbeck said the girls’ success also brought the Harpursville community together, with hordes of local fans making the two-hour drive to the Championship game.
“The attendance for the semi-final and final game was over 4,000 for both games.
To put 16- and 17- year-old kids on a stage to perform in front of so many people is a lot of pressure. But they handled the pressure really well,” he said.
During the earlier Section IV Championships, Ehrensbeck had made a bet with the girls that if they won the Section IV game, he would shave off his mustache.
He has been sporting the mustache since 1983 and noted that his wife and kids had never seen him without it.
Being a little superstitious, Ehrensbeck said he didn’t want to shave it off until the season was over as they still had more games to play.
“But on the way home from the State Final Game we stopped at a rest area and I shaved it off real quick while the girls were getting their food. When I came out they all started laughing. I’m a man of my word,” he said.
He added that he is not growing the mustache back because his wife said he looks younger without it.
Ehrensbeck said he has loved basketball since playing for Dave Clark, his coach in the 5th grade at the Town of Webb School.
“From Dave, I had Pat Kinney and Bob Risley, who were also my coaches. Each one helped me with different things, and it really helped me to have that experience.”
When the opportunity arose to coach basketball during his second year of teaching at Harpursville he jumped at it, he said.
“There’s obviously a difference between playing and coaching, but I really like coaching and the girls really love playing the game. We’ve been successful the last four years and that seems to perpetuate the program, and now we have a lot of young kids that want to play. It helps to feed the program. So it’s a good motivator,” he said.
The Coach of the Year Award Ceremony will be held September 23 and 24, during the Basketball Association’s Fall Clinic at West Point.
Ehrensbeck said he has been asked to make a presentation at the ceremony and will talk about the things that work for him as a coach. He is the son of Jim Ehrensbeck and the late Lauriene (Sparky) Ehrensbeck of Old Forge and a 1983 graduate of the Town of Webb School. He and his wife, Beth, have a son, Nick, 13 and a daughter, Natalie, 11.