By John Bombatch
He uses the number of trips to Fairborn High School’s weight room as his calendar.
Based on the many trips he’s made to the facility, newly hired Fairborn Skyhawks football coach Chris Roark has been busy with boys basketball coach Nathan Chivington — and even former football coach and still Skyhawks track & field coach Roy Thobe — in developing athletes in the weight room.
Roark was the head coach for a fledgling Middletown Fenwick program that only had 23 kids on the team, he’s been with a perennial powerhouse Kettering Alter program (twice, once as head coach; another as an assistant), was an assistant principal and assistant athletic director at New Lebanon’s Center for Adolescent Services, and has been the head coach at Jefferson High School for the pastcouple years, but the 54-year-old coach felt right at home during the interview process at Fairborn.
“From the very first conversation I had with him (Fairborn Athletic Director Micah Harding), I just felt like ‘Wow, this is very interesting.’ He seemed to get it. It seemed like he and I were on the same page, and we made a connection from that very first conversation that we had,” Roark said by phone, Tuesday night. “… And then when I went over for my interview, he had a panel of about 11-13 people — former parents, present parents, they had administrators from the building, a player on the team — I just felt like again, during the interview and those conversations I had with those people, I just felt like there was a connection there.
“I really believe that things happen for a reason. Sometimes we know those reasons real quickly, and others we take awhile, sometimes we’ll never know. But it wasn’t from luck or circumstance, for some reason I just felt a kinship right from the start.”
Harding expressed his sentiments in an emailed message sent Tuesday night.
“We are very excited to bring Coach Chris Roark on board as the new head coach of Fairborn Football. Chris brings a wealth of experience from private schools to public schools and has coached established programs and has helped rebuild and restore programs. He has coached in a state championship and knows what it takes to win. He is very knowledgeable about the game of football, but I think the best thing about him is that he has a passion for developing young men off of the field and using football as a vehicle to helping young men grow athletically, academically and socially,” he said.
Roark is the second varsity head football coach hired by the Fairborn City School District this year. In February, the district had hired Britton Devier as its coach. Days later, the district learned Devier was involved in a lawsuit regarding an alleged hazing incident at Woodmore High School that occurred in 2013 where he was the head coach.
Fairborn then rescinded the offer to Devier. And Devier was later hired to be the head football coach at Willard High School on March 17. Roark said there hasn’t been any animosity among the other Fairborn coaches or former coach Roy Thobe, who had been the Skyhawks coach for the past 14 years.
“Coach Thobe coaches the track team, so he’s in the weight room with me all the time, and we’ve had conversations together,” Roark said. “One of the first things we wanted to do was to test our guys and get a baseline for some of the strengths that the student athletes had, and coach Thobe was very open.”
Roark said Thobe even offered to send some of his track kids over to be evaluated, if he wanted to see them.
“It’s been real good that way, and I certainly appreciate that,” Roark said. “Throughout this whole process there was never any bad mouthing of anyone, or anything like that. It hasn’t been like that at all. … Things happen, and we’re all a fraternity of coaches, and so we really do what we can to support each other. I intend to support coach Thobe, and hopefully he’ll do the same for me.”
Roark has been married to wife Cammie for 32 years. The Washington Township couple have three sons — Christopher, who played at Ohio State and then has found some success in Hollywood in recent years; Corey, a Denver, Colorado-area loan officer who doubles as a physical athletic trainer; and Cameron, a Wright State University student who will also serve on Roark’s coaching staff.
Roark will finish out his commitments as a teacher at Jefferson this school year before coming on board full time at Fairborn.
“There are a lot of great kids at Fairborn, and I’m looking forward to working with them. This just feels like the right place for me, at the right time,” he said.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.