Shawn Thayer remembers his first day of seventh grade in 1975. His industrial arts teacher, Dave Irvine, was spending his first day teaching at Hauser Junior-Senior High School.
Over the past four decades, Irvine has become one of the most prominent figures in the school and the Hope community. His 41 1/2-year run at Hauser will come to an end with his retirement on Dec. 31.
Thayer, in his role as president of the Hauser Adult Booster Club, and Irvine, as the school’s athletics director, have worked together on several projects over the past two decades. Thayer describes Irvine as a fixer-upper, the ultimate repair guy.
“Anytime an ice maker or water fountain didn’t work, he would fix it,” Thayer said. “He built the baseball field. It’s amazing the things he has repaired or fixed on his own to save the school corporation a couple of dollars.”
Friday night, Irvine will be honored between the Jets’ junior varsity and varsity games against Edinburgh, his last home games as athletic director. The public is invited to a postgame reception in the school’s auditorium.
Irvine’s 20 1/2 years as athletic director has been marked with significant progress. He started Hauser’s softball program in 1999 and a few years later, launched a co-ed soccer program.
“I’m glad to have done that, to create opportunities to be involved in different sports,” Irvine said. “Everything we did is for the kids. If it’s good for them, it’s good for me.”
In 2005, the Jets’ baseball team made it to the Class A state finals. A year later, the boys basketball team captured the Class A state title.
Last spring, Hauser’s softball team won the Class A state title just 16 years after Irvine started the program.
“He’s been the backbone of all athletics at Hauser for many, many years, and outside of that, Dave is one of the best people you will ever meet,” said Craig Sims, who has been the softball coach since 2011. “He has a big heart, and he cares about the student-athletes. He’s pointed me in the right direction and helped me in any way he could.”
Immediately after the Columbus High School and Ball State University graduate succeeded Bob Miller as athletic director in 1996, Irvine was faced with hiring a volleyball coach and a boys basketball coach. He brought in Betsy Davis to lead the volleyball team and Bob Nobbe to guide the boys basketball program.
A couple years later, Irvine brought in Jerry Schoen as baseball coach. Nobbe still is coaching, and Schoen just retired from coaching after the spring season.
Irvine said all were excellent teachers first and also excellent coaches.
Schoen said Irvine has often enlisted his help on projects. They moved dirt on the baseball field, built concession stands and hung scoreboards in main gym and fieldhouse and baseball field.
“It just seems like every time there was something that needs to be done, we were both involved with it,” Schoen said. “Something always seemed to go wrong, or we would lose something or something wouldn’t work. It was kind of funny. But yet, we always completed the task.”
Irvine was heavily involved with the building project for the new fieldhouse and renovation of the main gymnasium in 2010. He even built the bandstand in the Hope town square in the early 1980s when he was an industrial arts teacher.
While he enjoyed his time as a teacher and coach, Irvine is glad he stepped into the athletic director role two decades ago. He said as a teacher, he attended a lot of the games, but wasn’t responsible for them like he is now.
“It’s two totally different worlds,” Irvine said. “As athletic director, I had a lot more responsibility. But I loved that. I was ready for a change. It seemed like the natural thing to do.”
In retirement, Irvine plans to spend more time with his two young grandchildren and visit friends in Florida. He also would like to get more involved with his church, Community Church of Columbus.
Irvine also is collecting supplies for a project where he will take a load of relief supplies to residents of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Jan. 8. He will have a table set up at Friday’s game where fans can donate water, clothing, stuffed animals and other items.
The past couple of days, Irvine has been in Nashville, Tennessee, with his successor, Ron Hounshell, at the national athletic directors convention. Irvine has traveled all over the country for conventions and met countless people at those events, as well as the sporting events here in Indiana.
“Every day was different,” Irvine said. “I think about all the coaches I’ve met and even down to the officials. It’s just been about the people for me. I’ve developed a lot of friends. I have fond memories that I’m going to take with me no matter where I go.”
The most obvious fond memories are the state championships in boys basketball and softball and the state runner-up finish in baseball. But even more fond than that has been watching how athletes have progressed and succeeded and the way that the program has developed and earned respect.
“Just about everywhere we go, people say nice things about the athletic program, and that reflects well on the student-athletes and the community,” Irvine said. “It’s their accomplishment — certainly not mine — and that’s what makes me happy.”
A look at the roles Dave Irvine has served during his 40-plus years with the Flatrock-Hawcreek School Corporation:
Student teacher, March–May 1974
Junior High industrial arts, mechanical drawing and metal shop. 1975-84
High School health and substance abuse, 1985-96
Drivers education, 1975-2014
Reserve baseball, 1974
Seventh-grade basketball, 1975-78
Eighth-grade basketball, 1987-89
Seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball, 1983-84
Junior High track, 1988-91
High school girls track, 1992-96