Dick Heller returns to Oak Harbor after 14 years

Yaneek Smith

Press Contributing Writer

Dick Heller has been here before.
The former Oak Harbor girls basketball coach had a great deal of success with the Rockets during his first stint with the team, and now he’s trying to duplicate that.
Heller most recently coached at Danbury (2017-22) and was a coach at Lakota before he took over at Oak Harbor in 2001. He coached there until 2009, going 121-73 and winning two Sandusky Bay Conference titles while going undefeated twice in the regular season and putting together a 46-game winning streak — not counting the postseason — over three regular seasons. He coached the Raiders from 1991-2002.
“There are some great memories,” Heller said. “That first summer, we went to a camp in Michigan, and I called my wife and said, ‘I don’t know if I did the right thing. But it worked out. (The girls) bought in and had back-to-back 20-win teams. We had great fun and great success.”
Heller went 339-216, winning just over 61% of his games, including three conference crowns, nine sectional championships and one district title with the Raiders.
Oak Harbor athletic director Dan Hoover talked about what Heller can do for the program. Hoover was an employee at the high school during Heller’s first stint in Oak Harbor.
“He had the most experience of the applicants. I think he brings a lot to the table,” Hoover said. “He knows a lot of people. He’s familiar with me, (assistant athletic director) Doug Slagle and the families. A lot of people know what they’re getting with him. I think that will make for a smoother transition. I was here when he was here before and he was easy to work with. It helps because the girls know he cares about them. He knows how to build a program. “His experience, his ability to foster relationships with the athletes and their families (are important) – he is just a positive role model for our athletes,” Hoover said.
Heller said he was informed by a friend who has a granddaughter in high school that the job opened.
“She said something about the job opening,” Heller said. “I called a few people and thought, let me think about it.”
One of the high points of Heller’s career came in 1996 when Lakota won a district championship before falling in the regional semifinals to Wauseon, who would go on to win the state championship.
Heller’s teams were always among the best in the conference, whether it was the old Suburban Lakes League, SBC or SBC River Division. At Lakota, the smallest school in the SLL, his teams had some great battles with Eastwood, coached by Jim Graycik, and Woodmore, coached by Mike DeStazio – two legendary coaches. Heller coached the Raiders in some capacity for 24 years.
Woodmore varsity girls assistant coaches Brad Hemminger and Ryan Beam both coached under Heller — Hemminger in Oak Harbor and Beam in Danbury. And Lakota coach Erin Foos played for Heller and led the Raiders to the Division IV district finals before falling to eventual-state runner-up, Toledo Christian, 48-46.
In recognition of his greatness, Heller was one of two retired coaches of the year honored by the Northwest Ohio District VII Basketball Coaches Association at the district all-star game back in March. He also earned Ohio’s award for sportsmanship, integrity and ethics and was the Division II coach of the year.
At 68, the desire to coach youngsters is something that’s still a passion for Heller, who coached in some capacity for 44 years before stepping aside two years ago.
He got into coaching CYO as a student at the University of Toledo in 1977.
Heller will bring former player Megan Maguire aboard, as well as Abbie Gezo, who played for him for one year. He said his junior high coaches — Dan Yoder and Jonathan Head — are staying with the program. Right now, Heller is looking for a JV coach.
“Anytime I step into a program, I’m excited,” he said. “I know (former coach) Adam (Steinbrick) worked hard. I know they have athletes. Are we getting the athletes? I’d like to get the numbers higher.”


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association