GREENVILLE – The following story appeard in print in June of 2015 after Dr. Steve Gruber and Larry Masters talked old times over a cup of coffee.
Two former Greenville varsity coaches, that includes a former Greenville High School principal, shared old times along with the future of Greenville sports over a Saturday morning cup of coffee in downtown Greenville.
Florida resident, Larry Masters served five years as Greenville’s head varsity football coach from 1985-89 and six years prior to that as a Green Wave assistant varsity football coach and teacher.
Dr. Steve Gruber, a Greenville graduate taught and coached track for six years at Greeville prior to serving six years as the school’s High School Assistant Principle, Arcanum Middle School Principle for six years and six years as Greenville’s High School Principle from 1994-2000.
Gruber currently fills three roles at Cedarville University serving as the Assistant Dean for the Graduate School of Education, Director of the Masters of Education program and as a Professor of Education.
Masters and Gruber shared their thoughts from their many years as coaches and administrators during the 90’s at GHS to today’s present day schools with both seeing many positives in Greenville’s future.
“I think athletics were right on the verge of becoming year around back then, but not like it is now,” said Masters. “I think kids today do more choosing instead of playing three or two sports. They have soccer leagues all year, they have baseball, AAU basketball is huge now and these kids don’t play three sports. There are still a few two sports around but I think in bigger schools its fewer.”
“I think too, back then there was a stronger identification with the school,” said Gruber. “You had more pride playing for the Green Wave than today. This is a big generalization… I think many of our athletes today just play for themselves and they don’t really identify as closely with the school and it’s just not the same. There isn’t that rah-rah spirit. I’m not putting these kids down. It’s just different. I don’t see that school identification and playing for that team like there used to be.”
“It has kinda trickled down from the colleges… you see it all the time,” Masters said. “If they (student athletes) don’t get enough playing time they will transfer after their sophomore year and sometimes freshman year to a new school. I don’t know if that is the reason why they transfer around here, but in a lot of places, if things aren’t going exactly the way they want it to go or what they expected they will transfer.”
Masters and Gruber both agree that Greenville is moving in the right direction. They like what they see taking place not only in the local school system, but in the city of Greenville as well.
“I think we have turned a corner,” stated Gruber. “I believe there is an increasing interest in the community. It’s not just Greenville sports. I’m seeing it a lot more places… industry, the downtown is vibrant.”
“I see a different spirit in the town that is positive and I think athletics is just one indicator of that,” continued Gruber. “Obviously the women’s softball team has done very well, last year’s basketball team for the guys was exceptional, the football team (defeated Troy, Piqua, Sidney and Vandalia-Butler for the first time in the same season in many years)… that’s big.”
Both former Greenville varsity coaches believe stability at all levels in the school system and winning go hand-in-hand helping to advance Green Wave Pride on the local sports scene.
“Winning always helps,” Masters said. “We did go through a few coaches and administrators there for a while.”
“I don’t know how many high school Principles we had in twelve years… like six in twelve years,” Gruber said. “That is difficult to build any kind of success of anything when you have that kind of turnover.”
“Winning… that will help… and to see that it is possible to win,” Gruber said. “We have always been the smallest on the block and we have always had to try to prove ourselves against the bigger schools.”
Both former coaches were appreciative that many Greenville school district residents supported and passed the recent new school building levy.
“That was huge,” said Gruber. “That was huge and something they needed for a long, long time,” quipped Masters.
”That was neat that Matt (Light) came back and was a big influence in that levy campaign,” added Gruber. “Seeing those kinds of folks come back and reinvest in the community and put their time and energy into it… that was great to see.”
“Matt is very passionate, let me tell you. The new athletic complex… Matt has been very active in that,” said Masters as the topic of conversation quickly moved to the possibility of a new high school sports complex that would include a new football field and stadium, a new soccer field and a new track and field facility.
“I was in the gym the other day… first time I had been in it since it was competed,” said Masters. “That is beautiful. The gym is beautiful and wow… what they have planned out here it just going to be great. The community is going to get a lot of good out of it as well.”
A former standout long distance runner and sprinter for the Greenville track team and a member of the Green Wave sports Hall-of-Fame, Gruber is supportive of the idea of a new sports complex.
“Our facility has never been what it should have been,” stated Gruber. “It’s always been substandard. Just going down to the width of the lanes has not been what it should have been because of the stadium being so close on the backside. We really only had five lanes. We could not host quality track events with the facility that we have… so I’m excited that will be part of this plan.”
“I hope they (community) see the benefits… just like the school,” said Masters. “It’s hard to look down the road when you make an investment. You hope that investment pans out and those kind usually do.”
“Matt (Light) is very passionate about this stadium and he is like a bulldog,” continued Masters. “Right now he’s working hard and talking to a lot of people. He sees the future.”
“I just keep seeing examples of progress… people taking interest,” said Gruber. “As a community we have to remember there are other needs besides athletics as much as I want to see a stadium and a new track. Other things need an investment, like our park, band shell and other things that make the quality of life in Greenville what it has been. They need attention too and they are all competing for those dollars.”
Masters and Gruber’s thoughts turned to the many students and athletes that came through the system while serving at Greenville.
“The very first year I taught and coached I had Dave Westfall as a senior in track. A pretty decent hurdler and high jumper,” Gruber said. “That sort of dates me.”
“I had George Luce my first year in Greenville,” Masters said. “I coached Chris Hayes and Rob Lear – that was the first group I coached when I came to Greenville.
Masters plans to return to Greenville in the summer of 2016 to organize the 23rd Matt Light Football Camp.
“I sure plane to be here next year,” said Masters. “It was fun. Probably the best camp we have ever had. I look forward to it.”
“It’s always fun coming back to Greenville,” added Masters. “My wife loves it. We meet up with a lot of old friends and reconnect. It’s always enjoyable.”
Contact Darke County Media Sports Editor Gaylen Blosser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-548-3330