Kalida BOE decides to bring Ohio’s winningest coach back

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Kalida basketball coach Dick Kortokrax jokes with the cheerleaders following the state semis. (Photo by Gary Housteau)

There will be an ending after all.

Whether or not it’s a good one depends on which side of the fence you were on.

Of course, only one spoke up. Those that wanted Dick Kortokrax back.


There will be an ending after all.

Whether or not it’s a good one depends on which side of the fence you were on.

Of course, only one spoke up. Those that wanted Dick Kortokrax back.

Wednesday night, the Kalida Board of Education voted to let Kortokrax return for his 35th season as the boys basketball coach at Kalida and 50th overall.

He was approved for a one-year contract.

Kortokrax is Ohio’s winningest coach ever with 785 wins in 1,100 games. This past season he led the Wildcats to the Division IV state final.

Still, due to what some believe amounted to a forced resignation two years ago under dire circumstances (wife with Alzheimer’s, diagnosed with cancer and death of a son), Kortokrax was to have coached his last game in Columbus in March.

The Kalida BOE posted the job and accepted over 10 applications, including Kortokrax’s. Only thing is Kortokrax was actually the LEAST qualified for the position based on the BOE’s criteria.

Believe that?

The original requirements suggested the job would first be offered to someone who was a current teacher. Kortokrax is retired.

Uproar ensued.

As did several board meetings, one of which was moved from the Kalida High School library to the gym due to overflow support for Kortokrax.

Not one person spoke against him that night.

And none have since.

Can’t find them. Won’t talk.

And never should.

Kortokrax is a dinosaur – yes. And I say that affectionately.

Yet he somehow can still connect with 15, 16, 17 and 18 year old kids.

I purposely run the accompanying picture of Kortokrax because it shows he’s in tune with today’s youth. He’s not getting his basketball players to listen to him, he’s getting the cheerleaders to. And they are laughing. That’s impressive.

He’s also got a great track record.

Kortokrax’s win total makes him one of just three coaches ever (boys and girls) to surpass 700 victories. He’s led four teams to the state tournament and his 1981 club won the Class A championship. Twice his teams have finished second.

During stints at Fort Jennings (26-18), Ottoville (200-82) and Kalida (559-214), Kortokrax rung up 20 Putnam County League titles. Seventeen of those have come at Kalida.

The path to what could be No. 18 was laid last week.

At a special meeting last Thursday morning, the BOE decided to change the requirements for the position to “any non-licensed individual who is qualified to fill it and who holds a valid pupil-activity program permit issued by the State Board of Education.”

Kortokrax was suddenly the frontrunner – especially when every other applicant withdrew their name, including longtime assistant and JV coach Jeremy Stober.

How cool is that?

I’ve never heard of it before. Have you?

Didn’t think so.

It’s good to see Kortokrax get his gig back.

He deserves it.

Stober, though, doesn’t deserve anyone’s ire, which small town politics often invite.

Those who have supported Kortokrax all along – keep your thoughts to yourselves too.

It’s over.

Finally.

And that’s a good thing for everyone.

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