JEFF GONGWER, BROKER
I came from a good athletic background. My father taught me how to play sports, and both of my parents always came to the games. When they divorced between my junior and senior years in high school, it affected me deeply. My baseball coach knew what I needed most was to play, and he was so key in getting me to go to college.
Truly, all of my giving back as a volunteer coach and recruiter is for what my high school coach Dan Fawcett gave me. That’s my driving inspiration. You have to learn to pay things back for the success and sacrifice that others did for you.
At University of Rio Grande, my best friend joined the team as catcher and I played outfield for four years. Although I loved playing baseball, I found that coaching baseball was pretty boring for me. Instead, I would go to the college basketball practices and watch how they coached the game.
While the sports played a positive role in my life, I was heading down the wrong path socially, hanging out with the wrong kids at the wrong time as a 19-year-old college student. Fortunately, I started dating my wife Cathy in my sophomore year at college. I knew she had great morals and the things that I needed most in my life. She helped me find that path.
After I graduated college, I coached junior varsity baseball at Westerville South High School while Coach Fawcett handled the varsity team. I really enjoyed coaching with him, and it helped me try to give something back for what he did in my life. I then coached basketball at several neighboring high schools and volunteered as an assistant coach at Otterbein University before becoming the assistant men’s basketball coach at Capital University in Columbus.
At one of the games at Westerville Central High School, I saw this guy watching a player from the corner of the bleachers. The next week, I saw him again. Turns out, he was a recruiter with Prep Spotlight magazine who soon after became employed by Nike. We met and he told me that he needed someone to help scout top talent throughout the Midwest. So for the last seven years, I’ve been helping him identify and spot promising athletes from Columbus, Lexington, Louisville, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and neighboring areas.
Some of the talent I’ve seen rise up through the ranks includes Ben Roderick, who now plays forward at Ohio University; Dieonte Miles who plays for Xavier University; and James Manns who plays at Wright State University. I also saw Musa Jallow, who, because he was such a great student in high school, was able to skip his senior year to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes. I know what I’m looking at when I see kids play. I just have a great eye for talent.
For me, this is my community service. I am truly blessed and enjoy what I am doing in life. Real estate gives back all the time, but like today, when I see a past player who I once coached in high school close on a new house, that’s the best feeling in the world. Life really does have a way of coming around full circle.
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