Chuck Harlow, one of the area’s longest-serving baseball coaches – mostly at Northmont High School – and among the winningest coaches in Ohio history, is retiring after 37 seasons.
Harlow began his coaching career with three seasons at Dixie, then spent the last 34 years at Northmont.
“My biggest thrill was to have the opportunity to be around so many great kids,” Harlow said. “That’s not coach-talk, either. That’s been super satisfying for me.”
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A successor at Northmont has not been named. Ross Kincaid, a Northmont grad who was among those standouts who played for Harlow, has been a Thunderbolts varsity assistant the last 16 years.
Harlow amassed 714 career wins. According to Ohio High School Athletic Association records, that ranks No. 8 all-time. Northmont has won 17 or more games at least since the 2006 season. The 2013 team lost to eventual Division I state champ Cincinnati Moeller in a regional final. Northmont was 25-4 in 2008.
Tippecanoe’s Bruce Cahill also has been a head coach for 37 seasons with 675 career wins. Lehman Catholic coach Dave King has been a head coach for 37 seasons and became the 15th coach in state history to earn 600 career wins this past season. He also coached at Sidney and Jackson Center.
Harlow credited thriving youth baseball associations for the Thunderbolts’ initial success. The Englewood Little League, Clayton Hardscrabble and Northmont Amateur Baseball League all groomed players for the Northmont varsity. Like many communities, the increased popularity of youth travel baseball has inadvertently undermined those local associations.
“That’s been a big change,” he said. “Travel ball, that’s where the majority of them are.”
He also listed the switch to aluminum bats, pitch counts, heightened arm injury awareness and even the general improvement of playing fields as other major game-changers through the years.
Northmont (18-12) finished in a three-way tie for second with Lebanon and Miamisburg – all at 6-5 – in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West this season.
Harlow, 61, is a 1975 Northmont grad. Ironically, he didn’t participate in baseball and instead played on great Northmont football teams under then-coach Ned Booher. Harlow resigned from his teaching position in the Northmont City School District four years ago.
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“I’ve had a lot of great players, a lot of supportive parents and the administration has been great,” Harlow said. “Not everybody can say that.”