FORT THOMAS, Ky. - When David Trosper couldn’t decide on his career path after college, he knew where to make the next phone call. He trusted Owen Hauck.
Trosper, the Conner head football coach, remembers the conversation. Fresh out of college, he considered a sales job. But, he also thought about coaching.
“He said, ‘Dave, it’s not about money,’” Trosper recalled. “’I’m the richest guy in the world because I am doing what I love to do.’”
Like Trosper, thousands of others thought of the impact that the legendary high school football coach made on their lives – whether in football, the classroom or life itself - this past week.
“He was such a great man,” Trosper said. “That was the thing. Sure, he wasn’t the lovey-dovey type. But, he cared. …The impactful part of it is unbelievable. He will be heavily missed.”
Mourners started to arrive at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday – 30 minutes before the visitation began at United Church of Christ.
Hauck, who won two state titles and had a 284-130-4 coaching record at four area high schools, died Feb. 17. The Fort Thomas resident was 88.
He is survived by his son, Doug, of Fort Thomas. Hauck is preceded in death by his wife, Shirley, and his other son, Glenn.
A service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the church. He will be interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Erlanger.
Thousands were expected to pay their respects into Tuesday night. Former NFL star Shaun Alexander, a 1995 Boone County High School graduate who played for Hauck, is one of 12 pallbearers Wednesday.
The line went out the door at United Church of Christ late Tuesday afternoon. The theme was consistent: Coach Hauck was admired and respected.
“One of the biggest things with Coach was he loved his players and he loved football,” said Mount St. Joseph defensive coordinator Rick Thompson, who was a longtime assistant under Hauck.
“He used to say it was his avocation and a vocation to him,” Thompson said. “And I just think that bond he had with all those guys – everybody talked about the toughness. Coach really truly loved his players and loved the game. He did it with passion. And I think it’s reflected in how everybody felt about him.”
Former players and coaches got together last Friday night. It didn’t matter what era. So many of them stay connected even if they played in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
“There is a lot of love there between guys that played at various times,” Thompson said.
In 25 seasons with the Rebels, Hauck was 210-101 with 16 district championships, 11 regional championships, the at-large state title in 1986 and four state runner-up finishes (1986 4A, 1987, 1992 and 1994).
He retired at the age of 70 in 1997. Hauck also won a state title at Highlands and coached at Burlington and Mount Healthy.
Trosper said if he could have his “groundhog day” it would be everyday to play high school football for Hauck. Trosper, a linebacker at Boone County, played from 1986-88.
“He took a bunch of snot-nose rats and we played at the highest level in the state of Kentucky with a bunch of guys like me,” Trosper said. “You don’t win big-time games without doing the things he did and teaching the things he taught us.”
Paul Westhoff, a Boone County assistant the past 18 years, played wide receiver from 1983-85 at the school.
Westhoff remembers Hauck’s fairness to the players. It didn’t matter if you were the star player or not.
“He was a great guy,” Westhoff said. “A good man.”
Lance Howard, 1988 Boone County graduate, played guard in the 1980s on Hauck’s teams. Howard is a tax accountant and still hears Hauck’s voice during busy times like this winter. That goes back to the football field when the players were told they would be tougher and more physical than the other team.
That has carried over to everyday life. All the players have appreciated that, Howard said.
“I have been very blessed to have Coach Hauck in our lives,” Howard said.