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August 11, 2020

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A Hardin Sports Hall of Famer

Melissa Gossard shares some insights on kids and sports

By Barbara Lockard
Ada first-grade teacher Melissa Gossard will be inducted into the 2020 class of the Hardin County Sports Hall of Fame this spring.  A 1991 Hardin Northern graduate, Gossard was an All-Ohioan in volleyball and basketball.  As volleyball coach at Ada High School, she had the distinction of being the “winningest coach in school history.”  We asked Melissa to share some of her insights on kids and sports.

Although there are young children who show a lot of talent in a particular sport, Melissa Gossard feels that there should be an emphasis on some other qualities.

“When kids are young, it’s the time to focus on building teamwork, social skills and discipline,” she said. “I spent a lot of time with my own kids in the 2nd and 3rd grades to instill those basic qualities.  When the kids are older you can spend more time developing talent.”

Gossard feels that there are some younger kids who may stand out, but without those baseline skills, they don’t seem to do very well as high school and college athletes.  

Her message to parents who want their daughters to be successful in sports is to combine sports with fun.  Make the sport a lot of fun to start out, then kick the training up a notch each year. 

“When I was in school, we only played sports in the summer,” she added.  “Now there are a lot of club sports and kids that play year around.”  She also stressed that for sports to survive in smaller schools the students need to play more than one sport. 

 Her oldest daughter Maddie, a sophomore at Tiffin’s Heidelberg University, was a three-sport athlete at Ada High School, playing softball, volleyball and basketball.  A pre-med major, she now plays college softball.

Gossard’s younger daughter Sidney, an Ada senior, has played volleyball, soccer, softball and was also a swimmer.  Son Carson, an 8th grader, is a two-sport athlete.  Gossard coached all of her daughters’ sports and says it can be rewarding being a parent-coach.  

Scholar Athletes
In retrospect, it seems to Gossard that the great athletes she has worked with have also been exceptional students.  Many of the girls she has coached at Ada were Gold Scholar Athletes. 

She credits Principal Dan Lee with encouraging all students to participate in sports as well as the school’s music program.  She also feels there is a lot of cooperation between programs at the high school.

Gossard feels that the reason Ada athletes are also academic achievers has a lot to do with living in a rural area.  Many of the athletes are also involved in FFA and her own son raises and shows sheep.

“It gives them time management skills and a strong work ethic,” she stated.  

She also added that being a college-based town with many parents teaching at ONU, there is an emphasis on education in Ada families.  As a coach at Ada, she said she has been “blessed” with great parents.

Hall of Fame
Gossard will be inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame later this spring.  She said that Beth Elwood, who submitted her nomination, was the “best coach ever.”

“When I was nominated, my first question was, ‘Am I old enough?’” she laughed.

Gossard said that when she looks at the list of other inductees, she couldn’t be prouder to be in their company.  With daughter Sidney also applying for the Hall of Fame’s scholarship, Gossard has had a lot of opportunity to reflect on her own athletic career.  That reflection has led her to appreciate all that coaches do.  It’s a big job and she’s learned from experience just how big it can be!