After a recommendation to hire Ryan Olaker as the new coach at McClain High School was tabled at an April 26 meeting of the Greenfield Exempted Village Board of Education, a special meeting was held Saturday morning and the board unanimously approved a recommendation for superintendent Quincey Gray to hire Joe B. Stewart to a new one-year contract. Stewart will return for a fourth season as head boys basketball coach at McClain.
Gray said Monday that she could not comment on the change in the recommendation. But she said recommendations on such matters come from the high school principal and the district’s athletic director, then she decides whether or not to approve the recommendation.
She said coaches are typically signed to one-year contacts only. So technically, their contracts expire at the end of each year, and the school board waits on a recommendation then decides whether or not to renew the contract.
“I just think there was some confusion about that,” Gray said.
Stewart, a 1975 McClain graduate, had been the head boys basketball coach at his alma mater for the past three seasons, posting an overall record of 37-30 with two winning seasons. Prior to his arrival, McClain had not had a winning season the previous nine seasons.
Stewart said Monday that he stood by comments he made in a Saturday Facebook post when he talked about playing in the first game in McClain’s current high school gym on Nov. 26, 1974, and thanked the school board and school administration for allowing him to continue pursuing excellence at MHS.
“There are too many people to thank, and mentioning a few is not to minimize the contributions of so many. But all the same, the past 11 days could not have been successfully navigated without the balance provided by the love of my life, Debbi Hollar Stewart, the care of lifelong friends Susie Mains and Dave Payton, my coach, Sam Snyder, District 14 POY Devin Carter and The Lord of my life, Christ Jesus,” Stewart said.
“The love and support of countless former players, my two sons, Brian and Tyler, stepdaughter Vanessa, my current Tigers, parents, fans, supporters, my past teammates in two sports, friends, friends of my brother and sisters, brothers and sisters in Athletes In Action, Facebook friends, those who saw a need for a strategic conversation and most critically, those who perceived a need to pray for me and mine; the test that we endured has indeed become a testimony and an affirmation that my life verse, John 15:5, has provided just enough light for each step of the way.”
After the April 26 board meeting, Stewart said in a prepared statement that he had received a board-mandated coaching evaluation from McClain Athletic Director Tim Bolender six days earlier and that he received high marks. But he said that at the end of the meeting he was told the school district was going in a different direction.
A large public contingent showed up at the April 26 meeting apparently in support of Stewart, and it was evidently enough to sway the school board.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.