MOUNT VERNON — Saturday was
a special night for one Mount Vernon resident.
Former Mount Vernon High School boys basketball coach Dave Moore was inducted into the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association District 11 Hall of Fame along with three other individuals. Moore, Frank Dalton of Delaware Hayes, Keith Ebright of Pickerington and Dick Torbert of Licking Valley were honored for their contributions to the sport of basketball during a banquet at the Olde Summit Towne Restaurant in Summit Station.
For Moore, who coached at Mount Vernon for 15 years, this honor is not just about himself or what he accomplished.
“This is a measure of respect for me as a coach and Mount Vernon as a basketball community,” said Moore. “That was one thing I always hoped would result from my coaching days, not unlike when I came. It was only a few years before that we went to state under Keith Merrin. I think the program was pretty well established, and I wanted to maintain that. At the end of my tenure, anyway, the respect for Mount Vernon basketball was still there.”
The four coaches served a total of 90 years as girls and/or boys varsity basketball coaches at the high school level and accumulated 1,525 victories. Moore finished with a record of 244-95 at Mount Vernon. He had 275 wins total in his career, which spanned 31 years at four different schools.
Moore knows that he never could have accomplished much on his own. He had several talented assistants along the way that provided great insight. His greatest attribute as a head coach may have been listening to what those coaches had to say.
“I think it was my willingness to listen to my assistant coaches, and then kind of pull together what might be the best course of action to follow,” said Moore. “I wasn’t so sure of myself that I wouldn’t listen to other people. Of course, I had Doug Savage, Kent Miller, Jerry Groves and any number as assistants over the years. The current superintendent (Steve Short) was my freshman coach at one time. I had a willingness to listen to other people and then make an informed decision. I think the kids understood that while I was demanding, I cared about them. As a result, they wanted to play hard and do as well as they could.”
Moore also is aware that he didn’t have the success he did just by coaching alone. It took talented players to win eight Ohio Capital Conference titles. Moore’s teams won three district titles and were runners-up one other year. Five of his teams won 19 or 20 games, including his last season when the Yellow Jackets went 20-3 in 1995-96.
“My success is a combination of (my coaching and the great athletes we had at that time),” said Moore. “We had a program pretty well established from the seventh grade on up. We had assistant coaches who knew what kind of drills and things we wanted to be taught. That carried over from one year to the next. The kids, as a consequence, were doing things in the seventh grade that we would expect them to do, albeit a little bit better, when they got to the varsity level. It was a program that our kids believed in, and that led to success. We beat some pretty good teams along the way, some that maybe talent-wise were better than we were, but we were a better team. It was a lot like this year’s team.
“I’ve asked my players over the years, ‘Why were we so successful?’ and most of them gave credit to the program that was in place. We weren’t teaching different things from one level to the next. We stayed true to what we’d done in the past, and add a few new wrinkles along the way. We were not wholesale changing things.”
Moore coached several extremely talented players during his tenure at Mount Vernon. Among them were Joe Perry, Steve Gregory, Scott Dapprich and his son, Andy. Year after year, it seemed another great player was coming down the pipeline to help Mount Vernon succeed.
“I asked them to do a little bit more because they had that talent,” Moore said. “I think we were good at developing talent. The way we conducted practices, the way we put demands on their performances and the discipline that was installed made us a little different in that talented kids got better. Our program was structured so that the role players felt like they were a part of the whole thing. They were contributing to our success, and the ‘stars’ understood that without the role players, they weren’t going to be as good as they could be.”
Moore was never a star player growing up, which might be why he related so well to his players. He went to Columbus North High School, and then The Ohio State University for his college education. He did learn a lot during his playing days, however.
“I was never a great basketball player. I played all sports, but I was what you’d call an average athlete,” said Moore. “I loved coaching, and I always knew I wanted to coach because my life was so influenced by the coaches I had. I think, because I wasn’t a great athlete, it helped me understand kids better.”
“Competition taught me to respect our opponent,” Moore added. “You don’t ever go into a game or a match thinking you just have to show up. You’ve got to be prepared. If you don’t take your opponent seriously, you’ll get beat. You can’t leave anything to chance. I wanted our kids to understand that we needed to do as well as we could for as long as we could. Then we would accept the outcome. Everybody wants to win, but I wanted us to play as long and as smart as we could. Then, whatever happened, we could live with that.
“Competition sometimes gets a bad rap, but if you understand how to use it, it can be a great tool in the development of young people. I believe so strongly in that.”
With 32 years of teaching and 31 years of coaching behind him, Moore has a lot of knowledge to pass on to younger coaches. From time to time, when the opportunity arises, he does just that.
“Those years just flew by,” said Moore. “At the time, you really don’t think about it. I tell young coaches, ‘Enjoy it because it all goes by so fast. You don’t realize it, so take time to enjoy your success.’ I’ve talked to Kurt (Kaufman) about that from time to time. When we beat Brookhaven, he was really excited. Five minutes later, he was already plotting for what we have to do when we played Westerville North. I understand that; it is hard to enjoy your success during the season, but at some point and time, you’ve got to relax and say, ‘That wasn’t too bad.’”
Moore dusted off his gym shoes this past season after Kaufman, head coach at Mount Vernon, asked him to be his varsity assistant. The end result was a 19-4 season for the Jackets, and a Division I Central District Semifinal appearance.
“I was a little skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure how the kids would accept me,” said Kaufman. “As it turned out, they were very welcoming, and that made me feel like I was part of the team. Because Kurt has similar philosophies to mine, it was easier. He was very helpful; he would give me assignments to take care of in practice, and was very good about listening to my suggestions. He encouraged me to speak up. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but I can honestly say it was 100 percent an enjoyable experience. Kurt had a lot to do with that; the players had a lot to do with that; parents had a lot to do with that.”
Moore was extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to coach once again. While he is only 25 wins away from the hallowed 300-mark, he has no grand thoughts of hitting the hardwood full-time again.
“I think this season reignited (my competitive juices). I don’t want to be a head coach again; I am perfectly content in my role with Kurt being the leader, and he is the leader,” said Moore. “That makes me more inclined to keep doing this. I can’t emphasize enough how important his role was to convince me to come on board. ... I had a great experience. It really stimulated me.”