Mohawk making a mistake with Hoover

The score shows St. Joe beating Mohawk, 1-0, but the truth was the Warriors won the baseball game.

Back on that Monday in 2010, the Warriors battled St. Joe for nine innings with Cory Huffman going the distance on the mound for Mohawk and picking up the victory.

As coach Eric Hoover walked to the bus to head back to Sycamore with the team, he remembered that his hurler had pitched an inning and a third on Saturday and realized the error of his ways. By OHSAA rules, a baseball pitcher only can pitch 10 innings in the span of three days.

Hoover told his assistant coach and immediately called athletic director Erik Baker to alert him of his faux pas. He then called the St. Joe head coach and let him know of his mistake.

Baker alerted the OHSAA and the game was ruled a forfeit.

The truth is it would have been easy for Hoover to overlook that third of an inning and take the victory. It meant the difference between a fourth-place tie that year and a runner-up finish.

Hoover is as competitive as they come.

But he’s also a man of integrity and to him, it was more important to do what was right, not what would best benefit him and his team.

And for that, he earned a sportsmanship, ethics and integrity award for his efforts.

Think about the lesson he taught his team on that day.

In a society of win at all costs, Hoover took the honorable way and showed his team that integrity and playing the game by the rules supersedes winning.

What lessons did Roger Luhring, Doug Walton and Todd Price teach the kids of the Mohawk community when the three school board members voted Monday night to not bring back Hoover as the school’s volleyball coach?

Luhring and Price each have daughters who are on the team. Walton has no children on the team and neither do Duane Coldiron or Beth Margraf, the board members who voted to retain Hoover.

Only Walton gave The Advertiser-Tribune a reason why he voted the way he did, saying “my vote was based on some of the situations with his teaching in the past like being late for work and students covering his class. The other board members have different reasons.”

The problem with that is the evidence didn’t back that up.

I spent an hour at Mohawk reviewing Hoover’s personnel file and looking at every one of his performance reviews as the physical education and health teacher for the last 10 years. He was “meeting expectations” back to 2003, when he was dinged for not turning his lesson plans or making parent contacts on time. He wasn’t a head coach of any sport at that time.

Since then, he’s passed every teaching performance review as well as coaching evaluation as evidenced by being continually recommended for the baseball and volleyball head coaching jobs he’s held for the last several years.

Such was the case Monday night as Baker, high school principal Brett Graham and superintendent Ken Ratliff all recommended Hoover to head up the volleyball team for the 10th season.

And why not?

A volleyball program that has shown constant improvement and he’s sailed the Mohawk clipper into uncharted waters when it comes to success: two regional berths and a trip to the state tourney in 2011. And on top of that, this year it clinched its first Midland Athletic League volleyball crown since 2004.

But instead, the board voted 3-2 to end that success and start over.

And you wonder if it was sour grapes.

Three years ago, the boys basketball head coaching job opened up when Brent Konkle decided it was time to give up the gig. Hoover was interested in it. But this same board told Hoover that wouldn’t work.

“They didn’t think I could handle (head) coaching three varsity sports and teaching,” Hoover said. “They thought it would be too much.”

So they turned him down. Mohawk now is looking for its third head coach for the boys basketball program since that conversation.

A year later, Hoover moved on to his alma mater to be the head boys basketball coach and within two seasons, captured a share of the MAL title at Old Fort.

Baker recently approached Hoover to broach his interest in the open basketball position.

“I was asked about it, yeah. I think everybody knows I have a job coaching boys basketball already and I like that job so I wasn’t interested in changing,” Hoover said.

So maybe it was sour grapes.

Whatever the reason, it’s left a sour taste in the Mohawk community.

More than a hundred students voiced their displeasure with the decision Tuesday morning with a sit-in. Graham and Hoover should be applauded for using that sit-in as a teaching moment about positive ways to impact change and not punish the students for voicing their displeasure.

Ratliff said every single piece of feedback he’s received from the community thus far has been adamantly opposed to the decision of the Mohawk Board of Education.

And those community members are going to turn out when the board meets again; be it for its regular board meeting May 20 or if it convenes for a special meeting to discuss the matter.

They’ll let their voices be heard then.

And then again maybe in November when Price and Luhring are up for re-election.

“We all have our shortcomings. People are going to disagree with how you do things,” Coldiron said. “(If we don’t bring him back), Mr. Hoover would be a hot commodity.”

Mohawk, take a page from your head baseball coach.

Own up to your mistake and do the right thing.

You let him get away once for basketball.

Don’t make the same mistake twice.

And in that measure, you’ll be teaching the kids of your district a valuable lesson.

We all make mistakes.

How we handle them is where the learning begins.