When Bob Glover and his wife, Erica, bought a home 30 or so years ago in a secluded part of Hobart, the Lake Station teacher and coach didn't know the office of his future job would one day be just a short walk away.
"It was a nice setup, tucked away, with some privacy," Glover said.
It only became convenient in location nine years ago when the new high school was built nearby and Glover, the Brickies athletic director since 1996, could go to work and get a little exercise in along the way.
"You can see the building from our family room," he said. "You go out on our patio, you can hear the play-by-play for football and soccer. Everybody's asked me the same thing — do you drive to school? There are days I didn't. I could walk across the parking lot and through the pine trees. People would say you like Kevin Costner, it's a scene from 'Field of Dreams.'"
At the risk of sounding corny, the job of 23 years, from which Glover officially retired at the end of the school year, has been like a dream. Glover grew up in Brickie land and graduated from Hobart. The Glovers' three sons, Bob Jr., Greg and Matthew, all went to school and played sports there and Bob Jr. has been the head baseball coach for nine years.
"It's been very rewarding," Glover said. "I was 40 when I left Lake Station. I wouldn't say I was ready to get out of coaching, but the opportunity to be in the system with our kids trumped everything. It was either they come ot my school, I go to theirs or I don't see them do anything. The timing was right."
Glover took over at the tail end of Hobart's historic run of football success, the Brickies winning regionals in 1995 and 1996 and making it to state for what proved to be the last time in '96. A who's who of coaches included Don Howell, Tom Kerr, Steve Balash, Don Rogers and Jim Johnston Sr.
"There were days we didn't get much work done, but I never laughed so hard in my life," Glover said. "If you wanted to solve the world's problems, you came to the wrong place."
The numbers began to catch up with Hobart, football specifically and athletics in general, as a stagnant enrollment left the Brickies further and further behind the growing communities in the rest of the Duneland Athletic Conference. Hobart joined the Lake Athletic Conference in 2003 and that gave way to the Northwest Crossroads in 2007.
"My first five years, we were last in the DAC in all sports (standings)," Glover said. "They didn't want to see us go, but it became obvious it was time for a change. We still play almost every DAC school in most sports and we've achieved things we wouldn't have if we had stayed."
When Glover came back to Hobart, he also inherited the fragmented collection of outdated facilities. The football and track teams had to walk from the high school to Brickie Bowl, groups of students crossing Main Street on the way. Baseball, softball and soccer venues were also off campus and the tennis courts, while next to the school, were the property of the city park department.
"I'd take people around and they'd shake their heads," Glover said. "We were everywhere. There was no place we called home. It was a unique situation for a school our size to not have (on-site) facilities. We were like gypsies."
That changed dramatically when the new high school on East 10th Street with a sprawling athletics complex housing football, soccer, track, softball and baseball opened in 2008.
"We got everything except softball and baseball lights and a pool." Glover said. "And now they're breaking ground on a pool."
Having his son as part of his athletic staff was especially enjoyable, though it's not always an easy dynamic to navigate. Bob wasn't part of the interview process and was out of the country when Bob Jr. was formally hired.
"I have to say I held him to a higher standard than any coach, so people couldn't play the Glover's kid card," Glover said. "He was always under more scrutiny, under the magnifying glass."
The younger Glover now boasts one of the school's most successful programs and dad can look forward to coming to games, baseball or otherwise, simply as a fan.
"I don't really know honestly. I'll probably come to some," he said. "I'm not going to shut it down and not attend a high school event again. I still know a lot of the coaches. What I'm going to miss more than anything are the colleagues, the day-to-day contact with coaches, teachers."
What Glover isn't going to miss is the round-the-clock nature of the job, popping in on Sundays to get paperwork done or agreeing to a parent's desperate request to open the school on a Sunday for them in order to get their child's uniform for a picture.
"My wife would tell me, can't you just say no sometime?" he said. "You talk to any AD, it's seven days a week, almost 365 days a year. You go on vacation for a couple weeks, it's like you have to leave the country. If you're here, they'll find a way to find you."
While this was Glover's 40th year in education, there was no numerical tie to his decision. He considered retiring a year ago but with long-time athletic secretary Cindy Carter stepping down then, Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington asked him to stay on to ease the transition, and he used the past school year to help ease the path for successor Mike Black.
"Bob is a terrific person — one who I’ve been fortunate to work for as my boss, work with as a colleague and mentor, and get to know as a friend," Black said. "Bob cared and was supportive. No matter who you were or what you needed, he was willing to listen and try to help find a way to get you what you needed. Support staff, maintenance, coaches, trainers, administration it didn’t matter."
Black was instrumental in coordinating a resounding sendoff for Glover after the last-day luncheon and roast. Long outspoken about not wanting the stereotypical rocking chair retirement gift, Glover openly expressed his desire for a Harley Davidson motorcycle. That day, Black granted him his wish, albeit in toy form, while arranging with the police department to have several squad cars lead an escort, with Glover seated on the back of a Harley, around the streets near the school.
"It made my day," Glover said.
At a retirement dinner, he was presented with a shadow box that included a piece of the floor from the old Brickyard basketball court, where Glover played, coached and worked as A.D.
"It brought tears to my eyes," he said.
Enjoy your time off, Bob, you earned it.