Coach Heck had genuine care for everyone (03-18-14)


There is something to be said for a coach who amasses a substantial number of wins.
There is more to be said for a coach who has genuine care for his players, assistant coaches and
opponents alike.
When talking about Mike Heck you noticed all of these.
The coach who led Rossford’s boys basketball program through its last dominant stretch, the coach who
fine-tuned 10 collegiate basketball players, and the coach who was named to the Ohio High School
Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame as an assistant and head coach died March 5, at the Cleveland Clinic.
He was 68.
Described by many as a passionate and fierce competitor, Heck led Rossford to a 135-67 record including
two Northern Lakes League titles, four sectional titles, a district title, and an appearance in the
regional finals.
"The biggest thing was, in terms of the basketball program, he started to get things going and put
us on the map," current Rossford basketball coach Brian Vorst said. "He led us to higher
"Coach Heck gave a lot in his life, and he gave a lot to the high school and the community,"
Vorst added.
Heck arrived at Rossford as a teacher in 1967 and he started his coaching career the following year.
But it wasn’t just basketball.
Heck was on the football, wrestling, baseball and basketball staffs before replacing head basketball
coach Joe Stalma in 1984.
In 18 seasons as the junior varsity baseball coach Heck recorded 247 wins, and he was part of 276 wins as
a freshman, junior varsity or assistant basketball coach from 1968-84.
In all 25 years as a coach at Rossford, the whole-hearted Heck never recorded a losing season. After
being named District 7 coach of the year twice and NLL coach of the year twice, Heck was inducted into
Rossford’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
"He had great leadership qualities," said Chuck Cox, an assistant under Heck and former
athletics director at Rossford. "He was a leader from the beginning and he wasn’t afraid to stand
"He was very kind to not only players, but kids at school," said Cox, who still teaches at
Rossford. "He had high expectations, and if didn’t reach them he’d communicate that with you."

Even as such a winning coach Heck’s most profound characteristic might have been his ability to shape the
players and coaches around him.
"He was very important to my growth at Rossford High School," Cox said. "He had
leadership, he was humble, he was a competitor, and he served as a role model and a mentor. I’m going to
miss him because he was a huge part of helping me become who I am today."
Heck’s generosity and caring attitude was always apparent, even after his players had graduated, recalled
current Perrysburg boys assistant basketball coach Jamie Kachmarik, a 1993 Rossford graduate.
"He always stayed in touch with players," Kachmarik said.
"There was one time when I was at Appalachian State and I was sitting in my office and I heard
someone ask the receptionist for me," said Kachmarik, who is one of two former players who became
Division I college assistant coaches. "I just thought ‘Oh no, who could this be?’ And I looked and
it was coach Heck. He said he was driving through Charleston and saw some signs and told his wife,
‘We’re going to see Jamie.’ He drove 100 miles out of the way just to stop in."
The visits Heck made to see Kachmarik were often when his teams played in the area, such as at Ohio State
and at Purdue, Kachmarik said.
An established athlete himself, Heck earned All-Ohio honors in three different positions on the Lima
Senior baseball team. He played in three final fours in his baseball career and in one during his
basketball career. Heck also hit the first home run at Bowling Green State University’s Steller Field
while playing for the Falcons.
But Heck won’t be remembered for his coaching accolades. He won’t be remembered for his intensity during
games and practices.
Instead, he’ll be remembered for how he impacted the lives of everyone around him.
"He was a family guy and he treated everybody like they were family," Kachmarik said. "He
was like a father figure to all the players, and he became a mentor when I got into the coaching ranks.
He was always a teacher, and even at the Cleveland Clinic he was giving words of wisdom."

No posts to display