OTTOVILLE – It’s not the family business but Ottoville High School’s girls basketball program feels like family to its new coach, Michelle Leach.
Leach, who was announced as the successor to the recently retired Dave Kleman on Wednesday night, is a 2001 Ottoville graduate who was a first-team All-Putnam County League player in basketball, volleyball and softball as a senior.
Her sister Shannon Vorst was first-team All-PCL in basketball two years later and a cousin, Erica Vorst, also was first-team All-PCL for Ottoville on a state semifinalist basketball team in 2007.
“I had the privilege of playing for this basketball program. I guess that’s why this program is so near and dear to my heart,” Leach said. “I feel very privileged to have been part of the success and tradition as a player and an assistant coach.
“I know the loyalty, the hard work and the discipline that have all played into the success and the tradition that has been built here,” she said.
Leach said the basketball program “is going to be like my extended family.”
Ottoville went to the girls state basketball tournament eight times in Kleman’s 27 seasons as its coach. It was state runner-up the last two seasons and three times overall. His teams won 532 games and had 20 or more wins in 14 seasons.
Leach’s goal, obviously, is to continue the success at Ottoville.
“He (Kleman) is such an amazing coach. There are no ifs, ands or buts about that. He has set such a high standard. I am just really excited about the next step here,” she said.
“It’s such an opportunity to continue a program that Dave has so successfully established the last 27 years with the winning tradition and really a tradition that our community has rallied around. It’s truly an honor.”
Leach was Paulding’s girls basketball head coach from 2007 to 2009 and was an assistant coach at Ottoville from 2013 to 2015.
Her passion for basketball led to a change of college plans during her freshman year at the University of Toledo, where she was a student but not a college athlete.
“About halfway through the year I realized how much I missed playing the game of basketball and how much it meant to me,” she said.
She transferred to Owens Tech and played a year there before finishing her career at the University of Findlay, where she averaged 13.6 points a game as a junior and 13.0 as a senior and had a high game of 40 points.
Leach is in her sixth year as a guidance counselor at Ottoville. She and her husband, Mike, live in Ottoville and have a 9-year-old son, a 7-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.