Sports Editor, The Messenger

Perhaps there are several givens coaches face as they try to build or rebuild a football program.

Such is the path Jeff Ditty, the new head football coach of the Federal Hocking Lancers now faces. The environment smells like defeat and the words expressed by many including athletes and parents are negative and hopeless. This is not the Lancer smell I ever witnessed.

When I arrived at Federal Hocking, the spirit of a winner was missing. Wow, it was painful and obviously well practiced. But it all changed fast!

Then things began to change. I ask the community to help and I ask kids to play the game. Like water slowing pouring down the hillside from a fresh spring, athletes began to show up for summer conditioning. I told them I just wanted a shot at them and their involvement in the game of football.

There was no yelling, no pushing too hard, no aggravating comments. We laughed and we began to talk football.

Before I knew it, I had 30 Federal Hocking athletes wanting to play the game. I gave out lots of verbal hugs and I really worked hard at coaching individual skills.

But there was something different about Fed Hock and I know it was the parents. Parents were so wonderful and so involved. They supported my effort to build a program. They trusted me with their sons and I loved them for their compassion.

Today there is a need to once again rebuild the football program at Federal Hocking. And certainly it can be done. I spoke with the new head football coach and I found him willing and able. He knows the game and he is ready to work hard and care deeply for young people.

I contend that Federal Hocking is different. I contend that parents and community leaders are ready to support the football program.

My wish ... is that someone in the community would call a mass meeting of parents and athletes ... and begin the path to football program success. I would love to attend the meeting and speak to those present.

I am 76 years old and I had a lot of wins at Federal Hocking. Today, many, many of my athletes are married and into great careers. Heck, I want to help rebuild the football program anyway I can. Gosh, I want Federal Hocking to get football rolling again.

These are my thoughts ... Hey Moms and Dads and family supporters ... lets get things rolling at Federal Hocking. Gosh I love the Lancers.

Coach Bob Springer

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