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From board chambers to basketball court

Alissa Widman Neese • Apr 17, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Earlier this year, Richard Koonce’s team consisted of top Sandusky Schools officials.

This fall, however, the former school board member’s team will include some of the district’s finest athletes.

The Sandusky school board voted 4-1 Monday to hire Koonce as girls varsity basketball coach.

He resigned Feb. 20 from the board, nine months before his four-year term ended, declaring he wanted to better serve the district through more active involvement with students.

Board member Jeff Krabill was the lone dissenter in the vote, which came after the board met for more than two hours in a closed-door session. Krabill declined to give a specific reason for his opposition, saying it “wouldn’t serve any purpose,” although he commended the positive direction the girls basketball program is headed.

“Last night we saw that yes, actually, sometimes there are disagreements when you serve on a public body,” Krabill said. “That has passed and we’re moving on. We have much bigger fish to fry than hiring basketball coaches.”

The board also voted 5-0 Monday to hire Jason Prophet as boys varsity basketball coach. Prophet, a Sandusky Middle School math teacher, coached boys junior varsity basketball last year.

All coaches receive one-year supplemental contracts, athletic director Shawn Coakley said. Koonce will replace Troy Wisehart and Prophet will replace Bob Langdon, who were both hired as interim coaches in the fall. Each will earn about $7,750 for the season.

The search process, led by a committee and Coakley, took about a month.

“Our goal was to create as smooth of a transition as possible for our students,” Coakley said. “These two guys are Sandusky High School graduates and former athletes who are very loyal and passionate about success for the Blue Streaks.”

Koonce — a community leader, BGSU Firelands adjunct professor and Sandusky Schools substitute teacher — said he is excited to mentor students both on and off the court. He has previously coached various levels of boys basketball.

Sports can empower students, motivating them to make good decisions and improve their academics, Koonce said. Many Sandusky Schools students have potential to compete at the college level, and he hopes to help them achieve that and more.

“I’m passionate about basketball, but I’m more passionate about what the game can mean for our kids,” Koonce said. “It teaches them character, integrity, hard work, teamwork and a positive attitude, things that mean so much more than just winning a game.”

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