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DELTA, Ohio — Area basketball coaches are rallying around the family of one of their own.
Cory Sprow, 38, died last week from injuries he suffered in a Dec. 26 crash in Fulton County. The Delta Elementary School principal was a former middle school teacher and a longtime coach of the Delta High School boys basketball team.
Now, members of the Ohio District 7 Basketball Coaches Association are organizing fund-raisers for Mr. Sprow's family, in memory of their fallen colleague.
Several teams have held or will hold “Ball for Coach Sprow” nights, where game balls are raffled off to fans after the game. Brian Vorst, president of the coaches association and Rossford High School's boys basketball coach, knew of at least five schools already that have organized events. More are holding similar fund-raisers independently.
Mr. Vorst, who called Mr. Sprow a “giving and selfless person,” said basketball coaches are often away from their families for much of the winter season. Mr. Sprow had just become principal this year and was out of the winter basketball grind when the crash happened.
“Now, [Mr. Sprow] was out of coaching and he was able to spend more time with his family,” Mr. Vorst said. “As a coach, you kind of look back and reflect, and you value what's important.”
That's why coaches have decided to raise money for the Sprow family.
“It's just a terrible loss for the coaching fraternity and the Delta community,” said Jeff Overmyer, past president of the coaches association.
Game balls from both the boys and girls basketball teams at Otsego, for instance, will be raffled this week as part of the fund-raiser. Otsego Local Schools Superintendent Adam Koch said the idea was just to make a nice gesture to the family.
“I'm just hoping that they [know] they have schools and other local communites that are supporting them in their time of need,” Mr. Koch said.
The Otsego boys play today, the girls Friday. The Lake Local team's raffle raised more than $500 in an earlier event, Mr. Vorst said.
The community's reaction to Mr. Sprow's death has been overwhelming, said Jay LeFevre, superintendent of Pike-Delta-York Local Schools. A memorial service Tuesday in the Delta High gymnasium was packed, and a luncheon overflowed, he said.
“He just had a very contagious personality that was just genuine and sincere,” Mr. LeFevre said. “The true impact he made around this area is just obvious.”
Mr. Sprow's wife, Tammy, became emotional when she spoke of the support her family has received from the coaches. Many spent hours in the Sprow home to watch game tapes or just talk about basketball. The coaches became part of their family.
Many came to her husband's memorial service, visited, or sent cards. Even players from opposing teams have shared memories of her husband.
“We are so, so touched,” Mrs. Sprow said. “We are so incredibly touched.”
Mr. Sprow left behind daughters Ally, 9, and Kendall, 6, both of whom were with him in the crash. Both are out of the hospital and should soon return to school, Mrs. Sprow said.
She's not sure yet what she'll do with the proceeds of the fund-raisers. But one thing she knows is that the outpouring of support for her family and tributes to her husband will help when her children are grown, and they ask what kind of man their father was.
“I would just say thank you for the legacy that they are building that I can share with my girls, so they know who their dad was,” she said.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6086.