THE BLADE/LORI KING
Ottawa Hills’ year-round coach, Chris Hardman, will have at least the fall off next year.
After 16 seasons as the football coach, Hardman will coach his final game in that sport Friday night against Toledo Christian in Perrysburg.
Hardman is also the school’s baseball coach and is on the basketball staff.
“I will leave education after 38 years, and it just seemed to me that having a coach in the school would make more sense,” Hardman said. “Also, I love what I do, and it seems to me easier to stop when you’re loving it than when you’re not. It’s that simple.”
Hardman, 62, has worked all but one of those 38 years at Ottawa Hills, where he began in 1974 after earning a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan in 1973 and his master’s from Bowling Green State University earlier in 1974.
Hardman’s only time away from the school came between 1980-83. He taught at Central Catholic for a year while beginning his pursuit in the business world before returning to Ottawa Hills.
“I found out I was better suited to be in education than in business,” said Hardman, who will begin his 35th season as Green Bears baseball coach in the spring.
His baseball teams have made seven trips to the state final four with a state championship in 1986, and runners-up finishes in 1992, 1996, and 2001.
Prior to his current run as head coach, Hardman was a football assistant for 12 seasons. The Green Bears are 74-90 with him as head coach, including a 53-30 mark in Toledo Area Athletic Conference games. Ottawa Hills won or shared TAAC titles in 2000, 2004, and 2005, and have made four playoff appearances (2000, 2005, 2011, 2012).
Hardman listed some of his football highlights — his first win in 1998, the team’s first playoff game at Delphos St. John’s in 2000, and the only playoff win at Monroeville in 2005.
“I will miss the kids,” Hardman said. “That’s what makes teaching and coaching so much fun.
“The football experience itself has tremendous value for young people. It can do more for kids than the other sports that I coach in terms of molding and shaping young men. I will definitely miss that.”
Each winter, Hardman serves as a assistant coach in the basketball program, logging 32 years in that sport with positions as a high school assistant and in junior high.
He will coach the Ottawa Hills eighth-grade basketball team this coming season.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do next,” Hardman said of retiring from his job as a physical education teacher. “I tell people I’m not retiring, I’m redirecting.
“I still have a passion for doing something. If they give me the opportunity to keep coaching baseball, I’d still love to do that.”
Central Catholic peaking
The Central Catholic volleyball team took most of the season to find its rhythm, but it is a case of better late than never for the Irish, who have advanced to the Division II regional.
Coach Jennifer Bronikowski had to do some serious shuffling as the season began when Jane Emenecker, the team’s setter from last year, decided not to play her senior year after verbally committing to the University of Dayton.
Central’s No. 2 option as a setter would have been senior Michelle Murnen, who had already informed her coach that she would be skipping volleyball to concentrate more on basketball.
On the cusp of the season, that left the setting duties up to senior Maty Lehman, who had been a junior varsity back row player in 2012 before being elevated to the varsity at tourney time.
Central, which struggled at times during the season with just two seniors in its eight-player rotation, ended the regular season 13-9 overall and 4-3 in Three Rivers Athletic Conference play. They were beaten in the first round of the TRAC playoffs.
“When you work all summer with a group of players that you think is going to be your group for the upcoming season, and then you have a couple of them who decide not to play for whatever reason, the team chemistry changes,” Bronikowski said. “You take a little while to get used to each other. I’m not saying it was bad. We just took a little time to get used to each other.
“We had some ups and downs during the season, but my girls have definitely learned how to adjust, and that change is not necessarily a bad thing, but can be a great thing.”
Tourney wins against Woodward and Eastwood led to a 3-0 victory over Tiffin Columbian in the D-II district final at Findlay and a berth in today’s 6 p.m. regional semifinal against Celina at Ontario.
The leaders in kills for the Irish (16-9) have been junior Kristin Murrell and sophomore Megan Koralewski, the top blocker has been senior Sierra Sedlak, and the digs leader has been freshman Olivia Morrison.
TC reaches regional
In her first season as head coach at Toledo Christian, Buffy Ruddy has the 11th-ranked Eagles (22-3) back in the Division IV regional, where they will face third-ranked Midland Athletic League champion New Reigel (25-0) in a semifinal at 7:30 p.m. today at Elida.
TC went 12-0 to win its fifth straight Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship.
Leading the way on the court have been two seniors — outside hitter Darian Westmeyer (240 kills) and middle hitter Lauren Valigosky — who have not lost a TAAC match in their four seasons. Defensive specialist Robin Bridgman is the team’s third senior, and part of the regular eight-player rotation.
Another strength is a sophomore class paced by middle hitter Hannah Paul, who leads the team in kills (310), blocks (80), and service aces (47); setter Kate Lindke, who leads the team in assists (700), and outside hitter/defensive specialist Sam Korn, who leads the squad in digs (280).
Ruddy is a 1989 Bedford graduate, a former player, and a 10-year assistant to highly successful Mules head coach Jodi Manore.
“Being new to Toledo Christian it’s been a really positive environment,” Ruddy said. “The girls are so eager to learn, and the parents are extremely supportive along with the administration. That’s made it it really easy for our coaching staff to guide them in the right direction.
“We’re excited about regionals because this is the first time they’ve gotten this far since 2010, when they went to state. They’re very determined.”
Whiteford sets records
With a 25-8, 25-17, 25-22 victory against Whitmore Lake, Whiteford capped a second straight 14-0 run to a Tri-County Conference championship.
During that match, Setter Jessica Bubacz broke the school record for assists in a season (1,014 assists). The team has since gone 4-1 in nonconference play to lift the season record to 34-7-2 overall, breaking the previous school record for wins in a season (33 in 2006).
For 12th-year coach Kathy Albers (311-149-56), this was her sixth TCC title with the Bobcats and Whiteford’s 22nd all-time.
Hall of Fame Sylvania induction set
The sixth annual Sylvania athletic hall of fame induction will honor 12 athletes and three coaches Saturday at a banquet at Sylvania Country Club
The athlete inductees include Harold Hall (Burnham High School, 1945 graduate, football), Herm Stokes (Sylvania, 1957, basketball), Jack Boyd (Sylvania , 1959, basketball), Frank Lukacs (Sylvania, 1964, basketball), Mark Simpson (Sylvania, 1966, basketball, baseball, tennis), Kevin Shaw (Sylvania, 1975, tennis), Matt Trumbull (Northview, 1995, swimming), Julia Dempster Koralewski (Northview, 2004, soccer, basketball, track), Jessica Okorafo (Northview, 2005, soccer), Kate Pendry Guttormsen (Southview, 1992, soccer), Kelly Rowe (Southview, 2004, football), and Aaron Waldie (Southview, 2005, football).
Coaches recognized for their contribution to athletics in the Sylvania Schools will be Lewis Whitman (basketball at Burnham, Sylvania, and Northview), Ted Dennison (tennis at Sylvania), and Mike O’Reilly (baseball at Southview).
The honorees will be introduced during halftime Friday at the Northview-Southview football game. The induction ceremony Saturday begins at 6:30 p.m.
For reservations to the banquet or more information, contact Brian Kezur at 419-304-7561.