EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the next few weeks, HSJ Online will be completing a writing project begun a year ago. It is the story of how a small community (Hope) and its tiny high school (Hauser) reaped the benefits created by the efforts of three educators that were hired by the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. over 20 years ago. Together - Dave Irvine, Jerry Schoen and Bob Nobbe helped produce results which are surely the envy of many.
Dave Irvine was new to the job. One of his first tasks as athletic director was to assist in the hiring of a physical education teacher and a social studies teacher whose job descriptions would include extracurricular activities. Those after school efforts would result in 20 years of memories being produced by young men on the baseball diamond and in the gymnasium.
Irvine (now retired) will long be remembered for the astute judgement he used in helping bring Jerry Schoen and Bob Nobbe under the roof of the Jetport. Known rather widely for after school achievements, the duo has now joined Irvine on the athletic sideline.
Schoen has hung up his cleats.
Nobbe has done the same with his tennis shoes.
Both educators now take care of the important business of directing academic programs in more conventional classrooms. On a daily basis, Schoen does his thing barking and directing traffic in the Fieldhouse while Nobbe works around the corner in a room where governmental charts and economic trends take precedent over basketball hall-of-famers.
While both educators were coaches at heart, Schoen made his way to Hope via an unsuccessful attempt to become a full-time professional baseball player. That story has already been told.
Nobbe found Hope by taking a direct route up the state highway from Batesville. His story will also be told.
As was VERY clear from the outset, the last thing the Ball State graduate would ever want to be remembered as is being a "musician." Tooting a horn - at least his - is not his thing and never has been. So -- as it was with Schoen -- Nobbe entered into the interview process with extreme caution.
But with humility seeping from every crack and crevice in the room, Nobbe - in obvious discomfort - made a recent afternoon visit for this writer very enjoyable. He talked. He answered questions and a conversation ensued. And, if all goes well with the aftermath and results of our initial conversation, let's just say, we hope the first edition will be multiplied by at least two or three.
Following a small dose of coaxing, it was with obvious reluctance that Nobbe finally smiled, nodded and said, "Let's give it a try."
A year ago, Irvine had needed no such "coaxing."
"Bob and Jerry both arrived here sharing a lot of the same philosophy," Irvine said. "And so obviously... they came with rich experience and both spent 20 years making my job so much easier.
"They came with a winning attitude," Irvine continued. "And as the sporting goods salesman from Cincinnati reminded me: 'You have hired two of the greatest guys you could have hired.' He was right."
Irvine was quick to note that even during the "down" times - which are inevitable in a small school - both coaches always focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. The Columbus High School graduate also made it clear that outwardly, clones had not been hired.
"It takes a lot of time and effort to stay connected with the kids. In the hallways and in the community, both have stayed focused. They did it (and still do) in their own unique way," he said.
And Hauser and Hope both continue to benefit from that uniqueness.
"Those guys had their chances to leave but never did," Irvine said. "Maybe they thought the grass is greener here."
For sure - with their bags of "fertilizer" and buckets of "green paint" - Nobbe and Schoen kept it that way.
In Nobbe's case, the decorating was done with a bit of gold. For those who may have just moved into the neighborhood, it was in 2005 that boys from Hauser won a state championship. When told that "only" slightly over 100 other coaches in Indiana are the owners of a "gold" ring, Nobbe did manage a sheepish smile when he admitted, "That is kind of neat."
Not wanting to push his luck, shortly after revealing that tidbit of Hoosier lore about the tournament that started - ironically - 117 years ago, the writer suggested that the discussion be put on hold and resumed on another day. The writer's selfish hope is that (maybe) chapter two in the series will include the 12-year-old memories of a coach who lived the dream - up close and personal.