Deflecting the praise to those who helped him along the way, longtime McClain girls basketball coach Dennis Overstake has been inducted into the District 14 Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
A graduate of Whiteoak High School, Overstake coached varsity at McClain beginning in 1981 and stayed there for 32 years, compiling a record of 501-210.
“Dixie and Kayla put up with a lot over those 32 years,” Overstake said, referring to his late wife and daughter, respectively. “They both helped out in many ways, from keeping score to running the camera, to doing all the little things behind the scenes; me being gone and them doing stuff at home that I needed to be doing. They did a lot of things to help out in that situation that only has my name on it.”
His final two seasons as a head coach were at Western Brown High School where the teams went 17-31 for a combined head coaching record of 518-241 — a winning percentage of .682.
McClain won six district championships during Overstake’s tenure, 17 sectional champions under Overstake, and made it to the regional finals one time, falling to Columbus Mifflin.
In the 2001-02 season, McClain went undefeated until losing to Mifflin, finishing 25-1 and ranked No. 6 in the state by the Associated Press in Division II.
“We had six seniors and six juniors that year,” Overstake said. “We were pretty well loaded with basketball athletes. We were without Sarah Hull in that ballgame (against Mifflin). She had torn her ACL in the semifinals against Dover. Mifflin would have to have taken two players out of their lineup to equal the amount of points we lost.”
Mifflin beat McClain, 57-45, in the regional finals.
McClain won seven South Central Ohio League and Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference championships under Overstake, and doubtless would have won more, but McClain was independent for 10 years after the SCOL broke up in the early 1990s.
“We had a lot of good teams in the ‘90s,” Overstake said.
Overstake is also a 2012 inductee into The Times-Gazette Highland County Hall of Fame, which includes not only coaches, but former players and athletic officials.
Overstake was a varsity assistant coach for the Miami Trace girls program for two years. He coached the Miami Trace seventh grade girls team this past season.
“I told (the seventh grade team) this year that I never changed anything from how I coached varsity teams to how I coached them this year and they handled it very well,” Overstake said. “As I’ve always said, I’ve been very fortunate about the number of good players that I have had and the number of good coaches and people I’ve had around me. Tim Gossett was instrumental for many years as my varsity assistant.
“I’ve had several jayvee coaches for many years,” he continued. “Tim was there for most of the latter years (at McClain). Karen Yeager was the scorekeeper for most of those years. She kept Rick’s (Van Matre) book and she did softball and baseball. She was 35 years with the girls program and 36 years with the boys. She was with the baseball team for 31 years and with the volleyball team for 34 years. She coached the McClain softball team from 1974 to 1982.”
Overstake played basketball and baseball at Whiteoak.
“I was just an average player,” Overstake said, referring to his time on the Wildcats’ basketball team. “I liked playing and coaching seemed to be the best way to stay in (the sport).”
Overstake graduated from Morehead State University in 1978 and was hired that year by the Greenfield school district. He was the junior high boys basketball coach at Buckskin (South Salem) and was the volleyball coach at McClain High School for four years. He coached the girls junior-varsity basketball team at McClain for two years, finishing that run with a record of 29-3.
Overstake spoke about the keys to running a successful high school basketball program.
“It basically came down to always having very good ballplayers,” he said. “When you are implementing a program and you’re there for that long and the program is working all the way up through, I was getting many refined players at the varsity level that already knew the basics of the program. We implemented the system all the way through. We just capitalized on their athletic ability and basketball IQ, whether they were freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors.”
During his three-plus decades at McClain, Overstake had several former players return to coach in the program at different levels.
“I’m very proud that some of my former players were some of the coaches at the junior high,” Overstake said. “We even had a freshman team there for several years. Audra (Cook) Branham who played for me and Emma (Thorne) Gall and Tracey Cokonougher was my manager when she was in high school. She coached junior high basketball. She’s now the assistant athletic director at McClain.
“Always having good players and good people around me has enabled me to be able to accept this award. I’ve been very fortunate to have successful players and successful coaches and other people that have been associated with the program that have enabled me to be able to reach this level of success. I’m very honored that I was nominated and then voted into the District 14 Hall of Fame.”
Overstake was inducted by District 14 Director Steven Ater at the all-star games on March 21 at Waverly High School.
Chris Hoppes is the sports editor for the Record-Herald in Washington C.H.