In a bowling event, that number is quite commendable, showing that a kegler has averaged 200 pins per contest in a normal three-game set. It also would mark a very commendable softball batting average, an average SAT score or enough cash to purchase a couple of airline tickets to Boise, Idaho.
In the coaching ranks of Ohio High School Athletic Association girls basketball, it is a number that puts a coach in very rare territory when talking about wins.
When Hiland head coach Dave Schlabach peeled off his 600th career victory in a road win over Newcomerstown, it marked a monumental achievement that only a handful of coaches have accomplished in Ohio’s illustrious girls basketball history.
Schlabach was honored when his team racked up win number 601 when his Lady Hawks dismantled Magnificat 71-34 on Feb. 5 at the Reese Center, and Schlabach took a comic view on that number.
“There aren’t a whole lot of coaches who are stupid enough to coach that long,” Schlabach said with a laugh.
A huge throng of former players and coaches showed up for the Magnificat game to celebrate a ceremony for the achievement, and that alone meant more to Schlabach than any win total.
“It’s neat,” Schlabach said of seeing so many former greats return to the Reese Center to celebrate and honor the 600 wins. “I’ve never coached for the wins. I have coached for the relationships. The kids who were here was awesome. The wins will be forgotten, but the relationships I’ve made have been amazing. It’s a really neat family or sorority we have made. These types of events always bring back a lot of really good memories.”
That run to 600 includes a whole host of memorable victories. First and foremost are the five state championships, five state runner-up titles and heading up 13 of Hiland’s OHSAA-record 15 state tournament appearances. It also includes his Lady Hawks having been to state in seven of the past 10 seasons.
Yet while wins come and go like seasons in Amish Country, it isn’t necessarily easy for Schlabach to create a list of his top-10 favorite nontournament wins.
“Someone asked me to rank my top-10 nontournament wins, and that would be difficult,” Schlabach said. “But I honestly think I can remember each and every one of our losses during my 27 years.”
That is because it is a whole lot easier to recall 93 losses rather than over 600 wins, and like most any coach, the person in charge always tends to remember the ones that got away anyway.
Schlabach said the win total wasn’t about him as much as it was about the program, the players and the various coaching staffs he’s assembled over the years who have made the commitment to putting in the time to make that win total possible.
“I’m not sure about the good things I have done, but the one thing I have done I do take credit for is surrounding myself with some really good people,” Schlabach said.
He has seen a number of former players and coaches move on to become coaches in the high school or college ranks. Current assistant coach Dave Borter has been with Schlabach since the 2000-01 season. Former longtime assistant and All-Ohioan Pam Oswald is currently the head coach at Tiffin University. The current core group of assistants that includes Borter, Nick McMillen and Carly Mayle each bring their own unique gifts to the group, which helps provide the perfect blend of styles to complement Schlabach’s coaching style.
Whether Schlabach hangs around long enough to reach the rarified air that is the 700-win club remains to be seen. If he sticks with it to see his youngest freshman daughter Gabby through the program, he will be knocking on that door.
Regardless, Schlabach will certainly go down as one of the most prolific, successful head coaches in OHSAA history, whether it’s boys or girls.