HEBRON – With little fanfare, Lakewood School Board members quietly and unanimously hired Marysville High School JV head coach and varsity assistant coach Craig Conley as the district’s new head football coach and as a high school social studies teacher, per a search committee’s recommendation.
“I’m excited,” said Lakewood Athletic Director Bo Hanson, who was a search committee member. He said each candidate was asked during interviews to draw up plays they would use on the field as coach. Conley impressed everyone. “You could see the passion he had,” said Hanson. “He was talking to us like he was talking to the team.”
Hanson has faith Conley will improve Lakewood’s faltering football program. He said one of the main focuses is to improve recruitment. “We need to get the numbers up,” he said. “We need more than 35 kids.”
Hanson said Conley began spending time at Lakewood and preparing for the upcoming season the day after he was hired. And Conley continues to meet with students, past Lakewood coaches, and to create a coaching team.
Conley’s father, Bill, is Ohio Dominican University’s head coach and a former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for The Ohio State University. Conley did not apply for the first round of interviews.
The unanimous support for Conley brings the board make together after they split 2-3 to reject the committee’s first reccomendation to hire Lakewood graduate and seasoned coach Dave Daubenmire for the position. He is also a minister, motivational coach, and founder of Pass the Salt, a conservative online talk radio program.
In February, school board president Judy White, and members Trisha Good and Bill Gulick rejected the recommendation to hire Daubenmire following a lengthy and emotional public meeting in the Lakewood High School auditorium where dozens of people spoke for and against hiring Daubenmire. Board members Forrest Cooperrider and Tim Phillips voted to hire Daubenmire.
Following that vote, the football coach position was reposted and another round of interviews began. The search committee chose Conley from roughly 25 applicants for the position during a second round of interviews.
In other business April 9, board members approved hiring Patti Pickering as the new director of pupil services. Current director Arnie Ettenhofer retires at the end of this school year after serving the Lakewood district for 35 years.
Ettenhofer said Pickering has been employed at Lakewood for the past 20 years. She began as a Spanish teacher at the high school and junior high for six years. For the past 14 years, Pickering has been a district administrator – first dean of students at the high school, then Jackson Intermediate principal and is currently the middle school principal.
Regarding his retirement, Ettenhofer said, “I will miss the everyday contact with the Lakewood school community, specifically students, staff, and parents.”