Hoover retires after 37 years at Oak Harbor High School

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

When Oak Harbor athletic director Dan Hoover came to the high school in 1987, he probably didn’t know he’d make his home there and stay for nearly four decades.
But the Rocket legend is leaving his job in the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District after 37 years with some new challenges.
Hoover, who also worked as a physical education teacher and athletic trainer, graduated from Perkins High School in 1981 and Ohio State University in 1987.
“I came to Oak Harbor after (graduating from) Ohio State,” he said. “It’s a great school district, and there was no reason for me to leave. I never looked elsewhere because it's such a nice place.”
Hoover counts the football team’s 52-51 win over Huron in four overtimes in 2002 that was won on a run for the two-point conversion by J.D. Bergman as one of the highlights of his time in Oak Harbor.
But it’s the relationships that really stand out, he said.
“Well, it’s really always been about the people –– the kids, the coaches, the teachers I work with; it’s more about the people. There are games, there have been a ton of great games that we’ve played well in, (but) it’s more about the people and the relationships that you build, more than necessarily the memories,” Hoover said. “It’s about creating good people — when I see people on the street, they stop me and say hi and they’ve become a better person. That to me is more important than wins and losses. Trying to create a good solid, athletic department has always been the goal.”
Doug Slagle, who teaches math and is an assistant football coach, has been Hoover’s right-hand man, working with him as an assistant athletic director.
“The time involved with running an athletic department is hard to keep track of. It is not just about the event time that is put in, but the preparation for the event,” Slagle said. “Also, I think the time demands in a community like Oak Harbor where the school is the center of it all can make the day a little longer. It’s hard, but it is a good thing because it keeps the alumni and students involved. The job is to try and make the experience as positive as possible. Hopefully, everyone is making a lifetime of memories.”
Hoover reciprocates those sentiments.
“I give all the credit to my assistant AD, Doug Slagle, and our secretary, Val Damschroeder. They do a ton for me; they are very, very good, very organized, and they’re good at what they do,” said Hoover. “If you can be organized, the events run fairly smoothly. We have great coaches that are willing to help out in any way.”
Hoover had to fill the shoes of another great athletic director, Drew Grahl, who returned to his alma mater, Margaretta High School, five years ago. Hoover was Grahl’s assistant AD for 12 years before taking over.
Chris Rawski, who coached the softball team for 11 years before retiring two years ago, talked about what Hoover meant to the school
“I just feel like Dan was always someone that was super passionate about Rocket athletics, doing things the right way and making sure the coaches have everything they need,” Rawski said. “I think it’s one of those jobs where no two days are the same, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make sure the coaches are successful in what they’re doing. When the community sees athletes that are representing the school the right way, I think Dan made sure those principles were followed.
“I really appreciate all that Dan did for me when I coached at Oak Harbor, and for his service to all the Rocket athletes.”
Hoover talked about what he did when he first got to Oak Harbor
“Back when I got hired, that’s when B-C-S had a lot of money; they wanted an athletic trainer on staff. There was also a need for someone to work with kids with disabilities. I taught and I took over as a trainer.
There’s a reason Hoover hasn’t considered going elsewhere.
“Oak Harbor is a great place, and B-C-S schools is a good district. I love the job, the kids, the school. I want the school to be set up for success,” Hoover said. “I’m a little more tired than I used to be – I’m 61 years old. When I’m at school, there are a lot of long days that start to wear on you; you get home at 8:30 at night, find something to eat and go to sleep and do it all over again. It’s a great job, but the demands are tough. If I didn’t have Doug or Val, I’m not even sure I would’ve taken the job.”
“I’d like to spend more time with my grandkids. I don’t get to see them very often, even the ones that live in Fremont. I have some grandkids in North Carolina, and I don’t get a chance to see them,” he said. “There are plenty of house projects that have been put on the back burner. I’m sure I will find something to do. There will be opportunities that are presented. I don’t think I’m the type that can sit and do nothing for a long time. I’m sure I’ll have to find something to do.”
Slagle summed up Hoover’s commitment to the school and the community.
“Dan has been involved in some role all day every day for 37 years,” Slagle said. “His work ethic can't be matched. His dedication to the coaches and athletes of Oak Harbor will truly be missed.”


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