Bob Spaite steps down as athletic director, teacher, staying on as coach

COLUMBIANA – Bob Spaite believes it is time to step down from two positions he has held in the city school district the last several years.

The board of education accepted Spaite’s retirement resignation last week and on June 1 he will no longer be teaching social studies or serve as athletic director. He will remain on as head football coach, a position he had held 19 seasons.

Spaite said the decision to leave both positions was “completely his,” and that he felt, with regard to the AD position, now is the time for someone younger to take the reins.

“It’s an all-consuming job and I just don’t think I can do it justice anymore, being head football coach and AD. We’ve increased the number of sports and there is so much more to do. It’s a full-time job and I just think it’s best if I step aside. I enjoy being AD, I take a great deal of pride in what I’ve done, what we’ve accomplished, but I just think it’s time for somebody else to come in and do that,” he said.

He added he hopes the board will choose his replacement from those already working with the district.

Spaite explained that, in his opinion, someone already familiar with the district’s procedures would transition more smoothly than someone brought from outside.

“I certainly think we have enough qualified people inside to fill the job,” he said.

As for retiring from teaching, he said the decision was based strictly on changes coming to the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). Changes include higher member contribution, 4 percent increase over the 10 percent teachers are already contributing; higher retirement ages, up from 30 years service to 35; lower cost of living increases and how earnings and benefits are calculated in the pension fund.

The approved legislation took effect last week but the changes aren’t expected to kick in until July or after.

Spaite has taught 35 years and said the school board gave him the option to retire and continue working in both capacities, but he opted not to go that route.

“I want to thank the school board because they allowed me to make that choice. They never said, ‘You have to pick one or the other,’” he said.

Ultimately, the AD work load was becoming too much. During the roughly 12 years he has invested in the athletic position he and Connie Ward worked as co-directors, but she later retired. He is currently working alongside Erin Heasley and Jeffrey Heaton.

“Without those two people the job is impossible,” he said.

Heasley is the ticket manager and Heaton is a volunteer.

Once the retirement takes effect in June, Spaite will have more time to dedicate to his head coaching position for the varsity football program.

During his 19 football seasons with the Clippers, he has a 137-68 record -a winning percentage of 67 percent – along with three Tri-County League titles and nine state playoff appearances.

This past season was one of his most challenging as the Clippers suffered numerous injuries, but still managed to go a 16th straight season without a losing season, finishing 6-4 overall and second in the Inter-Tri County League lower tier.

Spaite also spent one year as an assistant track coach.

Prior to coming to Columbiana he was head track coach at Southern Local for nine years and head football coach five years.

He has also coached in Salem and Alliance, and served as an assistant coach at Canton GlenOak.

His retirement plans outside of coaching include spending time with his grand-daughter whom he has not yet met in the state of Washington, and his four grandsons who live locally.

Board of education member Mark Hutson gave Spaite credit during the meeting in which the retirements were approved.

“We owe coach Spaite a lot of thanks for all that he’s done for the district over the years. I think he will be missed as a teacher and an athletic director,” he said.