by Tom Utescher

Penn Charter recently announced that there will be new leadership across the board for the Quakers’ varsity basketball programs. Lynard Stewart, a former Temple University star who played professional basketball in Europe for many years, will head the boys’ program, and the new skipper for the girls’ team will be 1988 PC graduate David Bass, who has coached high school girls successfully at Abington Friends and in the Philly Triple Threat AAU organization.

In addition, legendary Simon Gratz High School mentor Bill Elberbee will serve as an overall advisor and consultant for the Quakers’ hoop squads. At Gratz, Elberbee coached Stewart, the NBA’s Rasheed Wallace, and many other basketball luminaries.

Penn Charter Director of Athletics Paul Butler observed, “When you think about teachers and coaches, you think about where they came from, because good coaches and teachers were usually the recipient of good coaching teaching themselves. That’s the case with both Lynard and David, and of course we’re also thrilled to have someone of Bill Ellerbee’s experience contributing to our programs.”

Stewart played alongside Rasheed Wallace at a time when Gratz was the top-ranked high school team in the nation. After a successful career at Temple, Stewart went abroad to play pro ball in England, Spain, and even China. He appeared most often on teams in the British Basketball League, and retired from the Newcastle Eagles in 2009. In his new role, he can draw on advice not only from Ellerbee, but from his brothers Larry and Stephen, who both have collegiate coaching experience.

“He’s been busy putting a staff together,” Butler said, “and we were very happy to learn that he’ll be joined by Shawn Smith, who was his teammate at Gratz and was a highly respected point guard. Up until last year, Lynard spent a lot of time abroad, but Shawn has been in this area and has a great number of connections that will be helpful.”

The new head of the PC girls’ program, Bass, worked full time at Abington Friends and will do the same at his alma mater.

“I think he was seeking a new professional challenge and he’s happy that it’s bringing him back to Penn Charter,” noted Butler. “He also has many connections in high school basketball and among the AAU teams.

“I’m really pleased that he’ll be able to be here on a full-time basis,” the administrator went on. “Coincidentally, a woman who had been working in our diversity department decided to go to another school. David had developed experience in that area at Abington, so it worked out great.”

Bass will also help coach varsity track and middle school soccer at Penn Charter.

Butler said that Ellerbee’s role is still being defined, but will not involve day-to-day coaching.

The Charter A.D. revealed, “Bill reminded me that he actually taught here at one time.”

For many years, summer day camps offered by Penn Charter have included an academic enrichment and tutoring component, and Ellerbee, a longtime math teacher in the Philadelphia public school system, was one of the first members of the camp faculty.

“I think that all three of these men bring a sense of dedication, a commitment to excellence, and a desire to provide kids with an opportunity to compete at a high level,” Butler concluded. “They are all men of very high character who have well-known reputations in that area.”