Overwhelming support for Hoover

It was a sea of white but intermingled throughout were the colors of districts from the area.

There was the red of Hopewell-Loudon and the brown of Old Fort.

There was the orange of Upper Sandusky, the royal blue of Wynford, the gold of Clyde and yellow of New Riegel among others.

And the picture those colors painted was one of support when it came to Mohawk volleyball coach Eric Hoover.

There were painted signs and black rubber bracelets sold in support of the coach.

Thursday night’s special meeting of the Mohawk Board of Education had the feeling like it was going to be the trial of Eric Hoover. But the coach was going to have no shortage of character witnesses.

The Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association’s president could be found on Sarah Parker’s iPhone, being passed around on the FaceTime app as he talked to the various coaches.

Jason Miller, Heidelberg’s volleyball coach, and Parker’s next coach, was there to speak on Hoover’s behalf.

Opposing coaches from other schools were there to expound on the character of Eric Hoover.

The proposed courtroom was Mohawk’s performing arts center. But the meeting turned out to be a short one act play where the intermission lasted much longer than the actual play itself.

During the intermission, you could the buzz of people talking about the ways Hoover had impacted them or a member of their family, whether it was a player or a student or a colleague. There was a nervous energy, with the crowd eager to get this meeting going and make its case for its beloved mentor.

In the end, it were never was afforded that opportunity.

But it’s OK.

A quote that’s often incorrectly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi says “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

In a secular sense, Hoover’s supporters took that to heart.

They made their point, if not by their words then by their actions.

Hoover had a long line of people greeting him afterward; shaking hands, receiving hugs and sharing the things that he’s heard hundreds of times over the last 10 days.

And thankfully for the Warriors, those relationships won’t end.

The school board voted 4-1 to renew him as the volleyball coach, 10 days after voting 3-2 to non-renew him. Roger Luhring voted the same way he did on April 15, casting a no vote, which aided in the last 10 taxing days for the Mohawk community.

But Thursday’s vote went beyond Hoover and will have an impact on the future of Mohawk’s education system and its athletic programs.

Currently, Mohawk has boys basketball and girls basketball head coaching jobs available. Had the board stuck to its guns on its original vote, what would that have said to the prospective candidates to pursue that job? What would it have said to its current coaching staffs, some of which who have also had sustained success over a long period of time?

By voting 4-1 to bring back Hoover, the board reflected the opinions of the people who voted them into those roles. The question remains what those two different board votes said to current and future employees of Mohawk. It shouldn’t have come to this for Hoover to be approved and prospective coaches and teachers could rightfully be wary of their future security there.

Hoover is not above reproach. No one is.

The board told him as much. His approval came with the caveat of an improvement plan that pertains solely to coaching and the duties that come along with it.

And if Hoover follows the pattern he’s had with previous areas of correction over the years, he’ll take care of it because it’s what he does.

Unlike in New Riegel, Mohawk had the opportunity to right a wrong on Thursday night.

And in the process of doing so, lots of people won.

The community won its fight to keep a great coach.

The coach won the admiration of his peers and his community.

And the kids of Mohawk won the opportunity to be pushed, encouraged, coached and taught by one of the best in the area.

Now that’s a win-win.

Aaron Korte is a sports writer for the Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at akorte@advertiser-tribune.com.