Longtime Minster softball coach to take over on July 1
By Gary R. Rasberry
The Midwest Athletic Conference stayed within the organization to select its new leader.
The conference announced Thursday that Minster softball coach Robb Hemmelgarn will succeed Don Kemper effective July 1. Kemper had announced in January that he would be stepping down after 11 years of leading the state's most successful high school conference due to his promotion to president of Midwest Specialties, Inc/Flex Machine Tools.
A 1994 graduate of St. Henry High School, Hemmelgarn will be just the fifth man to hold the title in the 50 years of the MAC, joining Jon Sidenbender, Tim Buschur, Phil Schumann and Kemper.
"It sounds corny, but it's always been a dream of mine to have this position or have the opportunity to lead the best conference in Ohio," said Hemmelgarn via telephone shortly after the official announcement. "Don has taken (the MAC) to the next level. What he has shown me over the last couple of years, I don't think I'll be able to duplicate it. He set the bar high, but I'll do the best I can."
In the conference's press release, MAC president Austin Kaylor said Hemmelgarn was selected from a strong pool of candidates.
"His passion of our conference has been on display for many years," said the release. "His previous experiences have him well-prepared for the position."
Before becoming Minster's coach, Hemmelgarn worked in the media, serving as a longtime sports reporter for The Daily Standard. After serving as an assistant coach for Minster in 2016, Hemmelgarn was promoted to head coach for 2017, helping the program to a 129-39 record with four MAC titles. Hemmelgarn also has had a role in compiling the MAC's statistical leaders in several sports and creating graphics for social media.
His experience as a reporter and coach should help in taking over as the point man in a conference that garners a lot of media attention.
"Getting to know all the athletic directors, past players and coaches with the stories I've done, and meeting so many through coaching and also doing stats and graphics, they are a tremendous group," said Hemmelgarn. "I look forward to continue working with them in the future."
Hemmelgarn feels that the conference is working well, taking the approach of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
"That was I told the committee," said Hemmelgarn. "From the outside, there doesn't look like anything to be fixed. Sure, there will be little things here and there we want to do different, but I will look at it with the group and see what we can improve that needs to be improved on and what we can add to make the best conference even better, in terms of fundraising and events, especially our website and social media."
Hemmelgarn will coach the Wildcats for one final season this spring, but will spend as much time getting together with Kemper to be up to speed once the baton is passed in July.
"Don has already called and reached out to me. He has the winter sports banquet and All-MAC voting (taken care of). He'll walk me through the process," said Hemmelgarn. "I'll help him in the spring when I can. He'll be here in the spring. He's said any help I need, we'll get together a lot this summer to get ready for the fall and show me the ropes."
MINSTER - Thanks to an 11-0 run to start the game, Minster was able stay in control against Fort Recovery and cruise to a 50-30 victory over the Indians Thursday night in a girls basketball game at Wildcat Gymnasium.