Mike May a man wearing many hats

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

When Mike May took over the football program at Oak Harbor 16 years ago, he wanted to make an impact on the field and win games, but he also wanted his players to have meaningful experiences off the field.
For years, he worked as the freshman history teacher, and now he’s the Rocket Launch coordinator. May’s obviously busy with football practice and competing under the Friday night lights, but his schedule is busy with other things as well.
He’s one of the leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has a character-development class for football players in grades 7-12, and holds a Mom’s Night and a Dad’s Night for his seniors.
He works with fellow teacher and coach Megan Maguire as the leaders of the local chapter of the FCA. No pun intended, but you could say May and Maguire have resurrected the chapter.
“Oak Harbor FCA was very successful for many years and then we didn’t have it for a while. It has really grown in the last year or so. We meet every other Thursday before school. Prior to last school year, we would average less than 20 students per meeting. Last year we more than doubled the number of students involved,” said May. “As FCA has grown, we have had excellent support from community members, churches and businesses that have donated to our breakfasts that we serve at each meeting.”
The character-development classes begin on Monday for grades 7-12 and will serve as a starter for the week.
“I usually do the first (speech) and then our coaches take turns giving the weekly talks. We cover a wide range of topics that we feel will help our players develop into excellent husbands, fathers and leaders,” said May. “Our character-development program is a great way to start each week and I am proud that we have over 100 boys involved with the program.”
In 16 seasons at Oak Harbor, May is 91-64, which includes a 44-17 (.721) record in the last six years and a 20-5 mark in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division. The Rockets have won three league titles in the last five seasons and took home the program’s third regional championship in ’19, defeating the reigning Division V state champion, Orrville, 35-28, in the regional finals. For his efforts, he has been honored multiple times by the National Football Foundation.
May graduated from Vanlue High School, located just outside of Findlay, in 1992. He played offensive guard at Defiance College and graduated in ’97. He worked as an assistant at Elmwood High School for three seasons with a year as a graduate assistant at Ohio Northern University mixed in there. May then moved on to be the defensive coordinator at St. Marys Memorial High School, a program with rich history. The high point came in ’04 when the Roughriders advanced to the Division III state final, losing, 27-14, to Cleveland Benedictine.
Needless to say, football season can grind on the most experienced of coaches.
“I think for most football coaches, a typical week is very busy and stressful during the season. I consider each week in-season to start on Saturday. Our varsity kids come in to watch the film with our staff and lift (in the morning). When the varsity kids leave, I typically try to break down most of the film of the upcoming opponent,” said May. “Sunday is the heaviest work day for me. After church, I go to the school and attempt to get everything done for the week. This includes practice plans, multiple scripts, defensive stats and many other things. Monday through Thursday we practice from 3-6 p.m. and then obviously Friday is game day. Any coach will tell you that there are 100 other things that happen during the week that no one outside the program ever sees.”
The team has Mom’s Night for the seniors during the preseason and a Dad’s Night for the seniors during the season.
“The seniors and their moms take pictures at the stadium after practice and then meet in the Hub (library) at the high school for a meal. It is extra special for me because my mom makes the meal every year, and I include her in the program,” May said. “After the meal, each senior football player gets up in front of everyone else and talks about how much their mom means to them and thanks them for everything their mom has done for them over the years. It is typically a very emotional evening.
“During our senior dad’s night, we allow the dads to experience the pregame on the sidelines and then come into the locker room before we take the field,” he said. “When we line up to take the field, each senior and his dad walk side by side as we enter the stadium. I know the dads that played high school football enjoy reliving the experience. We usually do this during our first home game of the year.”
Oak Harbor athletic director Dan Hoover talked about the team and the community service they engage in.
“On Mom’s Night, the senior players write a letter to their mom, and read it out loud to them. On Dad’s Night, the senior dads can watch pregame and be on the sidelines,” said Hoover. “At FCA, he tries to create good kids, which he knows is just as important as wins and losses.
“His players help with the fireworks set up for the Fourth of July. People in the community ask, hey, can we get some help from the players? They help move furniture. Mike gives back to the community, and he’s very good at understanding that developing kids to be good people, not just good athletes, is important. It’s easy for athletic kids to just be focused on their sport, but he wants to develop an all-around person, and I think that is extremely important. He’s a leader of our athletic program, and I appreciate everything that he does – he takes care of so many things and does good things for the kids.”
Two of May’s four kids, whom he shares with his wife, Kelly, have graduated from Oak Harbor and are currently attending college. Tyler is a senior wide receiver for the Wittenberg Tigers and Katie is a sophomore at Kent State University. Olivia is a freshman and Andrew is in junior high.
“One of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life was accepting the job here at Oak Harbor. It is a community that values education and athletics. We have awesome kids here that are a joy to teach and coach. There have been many memorable moments in the past 15 years both in the classroom and on the football field,” said May. “I love my job and look forward to serving this community for many years to come.”


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