CENTERVILLE — For longtime football coach Greg Hale, it was truly an unexpected honor.
Hale and several other coaches were inducted into the Miami Valley Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Friday night at the organization’s 35th annual all-star football in Centerville.
“This honor means a lot to me,” said Hale, who is currently an assistant coach with the Arcanum Trojans. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen.
“I was just an average player in high school (at West Carrollton),” he continued. “We were 9-0-1 my senior year (1980) and I played behind a guy that went to Notre Dame and another one of our offensive lineman went to Liberty Baptist. The coach thought I was good enough to play at a small school so I went to Bluffton and the rest is history.”
Hale said when he graduated from Bluffton University he went to Upper Sandusky and taught for three years alongside John Reed, who later led Coldwater teams to multiple state championships.
“He was a great coach,” Hale said of Reed. “I learned a lot from him.”
Hale left Upper Sandusky and went to Bradford where he spent multiple years as an assistant coach, and even a couple of stints as the head coach. Hale stepped away from coaching for a few years when his son was competing in high school athletics, but returned to the gridiron again at Bradford in 2016 and then at Arcanum last season.
Hale said the Arcanum coach (Jason Schondelmyer) wants him to come back for this season and that’s what he plans to do as long as he is physically able.
But it is the physical challenge that might be more of a issue for Hale than even teaching and motivating kids can often be because he has been battling cancer since 2012. For the last four years it has been stage 4 cancer.
“Cancer is an ugly disease,” Hale said. “But I’m going to coach as long as I am physically able to. I just love being around the game and I still want to be involved.
“I’m just an extra coach,” he continued. “I’m kind of the old sage now I guess. I can sit at practice and can tell the coaches or players if I see they’re doing something wrong. I kind of like it that way. Coach Jason Schondelmyer said he wants me to be there three days a week, but I’ll probably end up being there five. That’s just the coaching mentality in me.”
It was Schondelmyer who nominated Hale for the Hall of Fame.
“I was tickled to death to be nominated,” Hale said. “It’s the culmination of coaching for all these years I guess. I’ve been coaching for more than 30 years now and as long as I can do it I am still going to do it.”
Hale was joined in this year’s induction class by Bob Franz of Carroll, Fairmont and Oakwood high schools, Jim Benetis of Bellbrook, Pat Masters of Meadowdale, Rick Robertson of Springfield North, Fairmont and Springfield high schools, Tom Massie of Troy, Tecumseh and Fairborn Park Hills high schools and William “Wat” Farrar, Jr., of Logan, Piqua and Milton-Union high schools.