Sports Talk: Ex-coach writes must-read book

A year ago at this time, Marietta resident Bob Springer was in the middle of a project.

The former prep football coach was writing a book, and it took him about four months to do so.

The book is entitled “Go Ahead and Break Your Child’s Heart,” and it’s a must-read, especially for parents and leaders of student/athletes.

“The problem is that parents spend too much time on the ‘giving’ side of the equation and this includes the entitlement stuff,” Springer said. “They need to go ahead and manage kids’ lives in a manner that includes discipline.

“Certainly, tough love is one answer, and yes at times this is too hard for kids to accept.”

Actually, Springer prefers that parents be “lovingly stubborn” with their children.

“Parents need to understand that their child does not need to become ‘the victim’ in today’s rough and tumble world,” he said. “Kids need to understand the rules…and then be judged by their performance.

“Let me tell you that if a child is permitted to run free, drugs-alcohol-poor behavior all come to the forefront. Parents love to blame coaches, principals, teachers, even school boards for problems their very own child has. Too many want the rules changed to fit their child’s life. Wrong! It is the parent’s game plan that must work.”

No question about it, Springer has something to say, and should be invited to appear on a national talk show to promote the book and get the word out.

Springer said one of the people who helped urge him to write the book was a telephone conversation he had with show producer Trey Elling of WGN radio in Chicago.

Another inspiration was 19-year-old Lamarr Wilder, who was knifed to death during a fight at a graduation/birthday party in Belpre in 2010. Wilder was a former football player at Federal Hocking, where Springer once coached.

Springer has coached prep football at several schools in two tours of duty, including Caldwell, Ada, Findlay, Parkersburg South, Federal Hocking, and Marietta High.

A 1964 Marietta College graduate, he coached for six years (at Caldwell, Ada and Findlay) before deciding to take a position at the Allstate Insurance Company as a management trainee in 1969. He spent 26 years at Allstate, working in several Chief Operating Officer (COO) roles and eventually becoming Vice President of Human Resources.

At the age of 53, Springer got back into coaching.

At Mike DeVol-coached South in 2003, he was the offensive coordinator and helped the Patriots win the Class AAA championship.

As the football boss at Federal Hocking, Springer was instrumental in turning the program around, and guiding the Lancers to a 7-3 overall record and a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division title in 2005.

“The Federal Hocking days were wonderful,” Springer recalled.

Eventually, Springer ended up at Marietta High, and was “interim” head football coach in 2011 when the Tigers posted a 2-8 mark. (note: Marietta High has not enjoyed a winning football season since 2002.)

After his stint at MHS, Springer retired from coaching…and eventually decided to author a book.

“It is a cumulative story that features a great (fictional) principal named Mr. Cobb,” Springer said. “Cobb is a mixture of a lot of people including Jim Diehl from Pomeroy, George Wood at Fed Hock and Bill Lee at Marietta.

“Pat Tabler who was my AD (athletic director) at Fed Hock also plays a role as does the now deceased AD from Findlay High. Just let me say that each of these leaders not only worked their desk, they spent hours and hours walking the halls and talking to individual kids. Wood and Lee are masters of this. Tabler was a pro at sensing kid’s problems and communicating with them. His values were never tarnished.”

Springer paused.

“I am especially proud of the Leadership Consideration portion of the book,” he said. “It is designed to force parents to answer some of the toughest questions they will face as they raise their child. Parents can’t wait until their child is 30-years- old to become their friend.”

According to Springer, the book is available in bookstores and on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble. For more information, you can contact the author at (740) 350-1886 or at bobzeek@aol.com

“All monies go to Federal Hocking High in the name of Lamarr Wilder,” Springer said.

Oh, yes, people should also know that Springer never accepted “even one dollar of coaching pay or expense reimbursement” from 1996 to 2011.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com