DELTA, Ohio — Cory L. Sprow, principal of Delta Elementary School and a former middle school science teacher who for a decade was head coach of the Delta High School boys’ basketball team, died Thursday in University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital. He was 38.
Mr. Sprow was admitted to the hospital after being injured Dec. 26 in a collision on an icy highway in Fulton County’s Swancreek Township.
After his death, flags in the district were lowered to half-staff, said Jay LeFevre, superintendent of Pike-Delta-York Local Schools.
Mr. Sprow became elementary principal at the start of the 2012-13 school year. He taught sixth-grade science and health for much of his career in the P-D-Y school district.
“He was a very heart-warming individual,” Mr. LeFevre said. “He was instantly likable, a shiny-faced kind of guy who was organized and efficient and reliable.
“His personality was genuine,” said Mr. LeFevre, whom Mr. Sprow replaced as elementary principal. “He would walk the talk and was a pure, kind, and sincere individual. Leadership was the key quality to his success as a building principal. In the short time he was there, he made a strong impact on the staff.”
He led the boys’ high school basketball team from 2002 through the start of 2012.
“He had a bit of a fiery, passionate coaching style,” Mr. LeFevre said. “For sure, a class act, and [he] earned respect all over northwest Ohio.”
His 100th victory as coach came in February.
“Winning was never everything to him,” his wife, Tammy, said. “He expected certain things out of his kids. He expected respect and discipline. Kids want that. They respond to that.”
He knew from experience. He’d been a point guard for the Edon High School basketball team.
“He remembered it like it was yesterday, what it felt to play in those games and to be in their shoes,” his wife said. “He worked hard to balance winning, knowing that they had family and school obligations.”
His teams didn’t win a district title, but he twice was Northwest Ohio Athletic League coach of the year. He was District VII coach of the year in 2010.
“He would have given that all away to have the district championship for his kids,” his wife said. “But it was an honor knowing that was voted on by fellow coaches.”
Mr. Sprow early on was an assistant to Mr. LeFevre, who then was varsity baseball coach. When Mr. Sprow was varsity basketball coach, Mr. LeFevre coached junior high basketball, and they coached golf together.
“He spent his adult professional career with me. We’ve been very close,” Mr. LeFevre said.
Mr. Sprow was hired by the district in 1998, the year he received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bowling Green State University.
“He loved science and the hands-on stuff he liked to do with the kids,” his wife said. Students saw nature close-up during overnight field trips to Camp Palmer and Camp Storer — for some students, their first time away from home.
A favorite student project was Mr. Sprow’s annual egg drop from the highest bench of the football stadium. Students were instructed to be creative in finding ways to protect their eggs, and it became a competition, middle school Principal Dennis Ford said. One student used a disposable diaper, and the egg broke.
“He really made them understand the importance of science, but he made it fun,” Mr. Ford said. “If I walked into his classroom, his kids were always engaged, and that showed his delight with kids.”
Mr. Sprow’s wife said: “He wasn’t their friend, but kids related to him. He spoke their language. He spoke at their level — to them, not at them.”
He was born Oct. 11, 1974, in Bryan. He grew up in Edon, and was a graduate of Edon High, where he played basketball, was a wide receiver and tight end on the football team, and center fielder on the baseball team.
“He always knew he wanted to be a coach, so being a teacher was a natural extension of that,” his wife said.
He was a coach for his daughters’ soccer team.
Surviving are his wife, Tammy, whom he married Aug. 5, 2000; daughters, Ally, 9, and Kendall, 6; mother, Diane Moore, and her husband, Bill; father, Kevan Sprow, and his fiancee, Fran Stevens; brother Chris Sprow; sister, Kallie Gensler, and grandparents, Peg and George Sprow.
Visitation will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday in Trinity Lutheran Church, Delta, where he was a member. A celebration of life is to be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Delta High gymnasium. Arrangements are by the Grisier Funeral Home in Delta.
The family suggests tributes to the Delta Panther Athletic Club or Coaches vs. Cancer, a collaboration of the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.