DOVER'S VON KAENEL TO ENTER OHSAA OFFICIALS HALL OF FAME
Thirteen individuals have been selected to enter the Ohio High School Athletic Association's Officials Hall of Fame in June, and Dover boys basketball coach Bob Von Kaenel is being inducted for his work as a football official. Von Kaenel, a Strasburg native who has coached boys basketball and track since 1980, has been an umpire on football officiating crews since 1983. During hes tenure on the gridiron, Von Kaenel has worked 14 State Semifinal contests along with nine State Championship games—only an injury prevented him from working a tenth title game. The Officials Hall of Fame is the second such honor for Von Kaenel, who was elected to the Ohio Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame last year.
“Service to high school athletes, whether it's coaching, assistant coaching or officiating, is something that I've enjoyed and done year round,” Von Kaenel said. “I enjoy doing each part of it. The officiating is a great time with the guys that you work with. The coaching is working with a great staff and working with young kids and seeing them develop. All three of my roles are different, but they all run through the same thread.”
Von Kaenel, who worked his first varsity game when Connoton Valley faced Indian Valley South in 1985, joked that the hardest part of being a football umpire is “not getting hit” and said that deciding what to call and what to let go is also very difficult.
“We're able to communicate more and more and so much better on the field,” Von Kaenel said. “In the playoffs, the OHSAA has done a great job of getting everybody on the same page and using the same mechanics and the same routines. That's really improved. The play, whether it was last year or 30 years ago, has always been outstanding. I've been pretty lucky. All the guys that I've worked with are already in the Hall of Fame. I didn't know if I'd ever receive the same honor, but it certainly is something I'm happy about.”
Most people know Von Kaenel as a basketball coach, and it's easy to see why when you consider his record on the hardwood. In 37 years on the floor, Von Kaenel has posted an astounding 680-240 overall record. He posted a 142-103 record from 1980-1991 at Tusky Valley, and the 1988 Trojans were state runners up. Von Kaenel's Dover teams are 466-137 since 1982, and that total includes a state runner up finish in 1998 and a final four appearance in 2004. The Tornadoes have captured 12 conference championships and seven district titles under Von Kaenel's leadership. His current team has 16 wins and is seeded eighth in the Canton Division I district. Dover opens play at seventh seeded Green on March 1. Second seeded Hoover awaits the winner in the sectional final.
“40 minutes before the JV game starts, you see your players out on the court laughing and having a good time knowing they're going to be serious in an hour and a half,” Von Kaenel said. “To see that joy in their faces, that's one thing that I really like about coaching basketball. I still like the practices and getting ready for an opponent. Trying something new and having it work is always rather gratifying.”