Deflecting praise to those who helped him along the way, longtime McClain girls basketball coach Dennis Overstake was recently inducted into the Ohio District 14 Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Overstake was inducted by District 14 director Steven Ater at the all-star games on March 21, 2022 at Waverly High School.
Overstake coached varsity at McClain beginning in 1981 and stayed at McClain 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 wife and daughter. “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,” Overstake said.
His final two seasons as a head coach were spent at Western Brown High School where the teams went 17-31 for a combined head coaching record of 518-241, for a winning percentage of .682.
McClain won six District championships during Overstake’s tenure.
The Lady Tigers were 17-time Sectional champions under Overstake.
McClain 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 line-up to equal the amount of points we lost.” Mifflin beat McClain, 57-45 in the Regional finals.
McClain won seven SCOL and SBAAC championships and doubtless would have won more, but they were independent for 10 years after the SCOL broke up in the early 1990s.
“We had a lot of good teams in the ‘90’s,” Overstake said.
Overstake was inducted into the Times-Gazette Highland County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. This hall of fame includes not only coaches, but former players and a variety of other people, according to Overstake.
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,” Overstake said. “Tim Gossett was instrumental for many years as my varsity assistant.
“I’ve had several j-v coaches for many years,” Overstake said. “Tim was there for most of the latter years (at McClain).
“Karen Yeager was the scorekeeper for most of those years,” Overstake said. “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,” Overstake said. “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 his Alma Mater, Whiteoak High School.
“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 system.
He was the junior high boys basketball coach at Buckskin (South Salem and surrounding area) and was the volleyball coach at McClain High School for four years.
Overstake 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,” Overstake 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 I.Q., whether they were freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors,” Overstake said.
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 (were assistant coaches at McClain) 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,” Overstake said. “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 said.