HOPE — From time to time, when his Hauser seventh-graders grab a rebound, Andy Dempsey will catch himself yelling “Go, go, go,” urging his troops to push the ball up the court.
It’s a rallying cry Dempsey learned while playing basketball for Bob Nobbe during Nobbe’s first four of his 17 years at Hauser. Although Dempsey is the only one to play for Nobbe, all of the Jets’ boys coaches from the junior varsity down through the seventh-grade level played at Hauser and live in Hope.
“I know what he expects from me and the whole team, so I kind of know how the system works,” said Dempsey, a 2000 graduate. “It makes it a little easier since I’ve been through it myself. I know how to teach the kids the way he wants the system to be. We run the same plays they do, so they keep working on it, and every year, they can improve.”
It’s that way throughout the program at Hauser. Griff Roth, a 1980 graduate who played for Butch Jordan, has been with the program for 15 years. He started as eighth-grade coach, then coached freshmen for nine years, was varsity assistant for three years and is now in first year as junior varsity coach.
“It’s a real privilege that I got the opportunity years ago to be with coach (Nobbe) and kind of get the program moving,” Roth said. “We had AAU teams, and coach supported all that, so it’s really helped us develop kids with his system.”
Doug Johnson, a 1993 graduate who played for Tim Stephens, was the assistant eighth-grade coach five years ago and is in his second year as the freshman coach. Ryan McDaniel, who played through his freshman year and graduated in 1996, was Johnson’s freshman assistant last season and is now the eighth-grade coach.
Before they became coaches, Johnson and McDaniel had been followers of Hauser basketball.
“Between coach Johnson and me, we’ve always come out to support them, and after helping him last year, I kind of got the itch to want to coach and have loved it ever since,” McDaniel said.
Aside from being Hauser graduates, Roth, Johnson, McDaniel and Demsey share another trait — they’re all lay, or non-teaching, coaches. Roth owns Roth Heating and Cooling, Johnson is store manager for Big Lots in Columbus, McDaniel works in purchasing at Kinney Paper and Chemical in Columbus and Dempsey is operations supervisor at Hope Warehouse.
“Managing work schedule is the toughest part of this,” Roth said. “Trying to get the things done that I need to do and still get off in time for practice and games, and for the weekends, it conflicts some, but I have a good staff at my work that takes care of me and gives me an opportunity to come here and coach.”
“With the schedule, it’s hard for me to juggle it, but I do,” Johnson said. “I have a good staff, and I’m able to get away during the winter months and be here with the team and do the right things for the program.”
Nobbe, who is the school’s dean of students, and athletics director Dave Irvine, haven’t had a problem with the arrangements.
“Bob is good about communicating with them, and they communicate well, too,” Irvine said. “Usually the biggest problem is communication, but they’re really good with that. They’ve bridged that gap. They’re all Hauser graduates, too, and I know them, so I can call them at home without any problem.”
“There are some challenges there, in terms of their work schedules and their personal lives and things that they have going on, but they’re also fantastic at making that commitment to Hauser High School and the kids here at Hauser and the Hauser basketball program,” Nobbe said. “They give a lot of their time and efforts to help us accomplish those goals, and I think it’s turned out to be a big positive for us.”
The fifth-grade coach, Walter Miller, is also a Hauser graduate, as is one of the sixth-grade coaches, Jason Pence. The other sixth-grade coach, Joe Chambers, graduated from Columbus North.
“I think it’s a special opportunity for us here, in terms of the Hauser program,” Nobbe said. “Coach Roth has been together with me for a long time. We kind of understand each other, and we understand the program and what our expectations are.
“Coach Dempsey played for me earlier, and he kind of understands that same role and situation now as a coach, and Ryan and Doug, both Hauser graduates, are very dedicated and committed to the Hope community, to Hauser High School. All of these guys work very hard to accomplish the goals of the Hauser basketball program, so I couldn’t be more appreciative of their efforts and their time and their commitment to what we’re trying to get done.”
Dempsey, who spent two years as an elementary coach and is in his fifth year as seventh-grade coach, has had the most success this season. He led his team to a 14-2 record.
“I love doing it,” Dempsey said. “It’s a small town here, but it’s just like one big family. It’s great to work with all these guys and to be from Hope and to keep coaching.”