PDT Sports Writer
Scioto County has lost one of its historic coaches as Bob Craft died Sunday from an illness.
Craft coached basketball, softball and volleyball at a variety of locations throughout the county, earning SOC Coach of the Year as well as being named an Ohio Coach of the Year during his 2o-year-plus coaching career. A 1969 graduate of East High School, Craft first caught the attention of former football coach Jim “Snuffy” Smith when he played quarterback for the Tartans.
However, Smith said Craft’s talents were really showcased when Buzz Pope got a hold of him on the hardwood, speaking highly of his amazing shots that would come as a routine.
“Basketball was his game,” Smith said. “…He could pull up and hit a critical shot at a critical time.”
After graduation, Craft served in the U.S. Army until he was honorably discharged in 1976. He earned his college degree in 1991 from Ohio University and was set to return this fall to teaching for the Portsmouth City School District.
Roger Gray remembers the battles he had as an opposing softball coach to Craft from 1987-94.
“He knew his softball,” Gray said. “We had some great games against each other.”
In the time they were coaching at East, former Tartans boys basketball coach Rick Hopkins felt like he had a very good working relationship with Craft when he was coaching the girls program. When the Tartan girls were in the middle of sub-.500 seasons, Craft led them to consecutive winning campaigns according to Hopkins.
“The kids always seemed to like him and he and I always got along,” Hopkins said.
Craft was also the last East boys basketball coach before the school made its transition to a community school.
Gray and Smith, now high school sports radio broadcasters, were each stunned to hear of the news.
“It’s so sad to hear that he has passed away,” Smith said.
The viewing for Craft will be from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday at Madison Missionary Church in Minford. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church and burial will take place at Harrison-Furnace Cemetery.
Craft leaves behind his wife, a daughter, a grandson, three brothers, two sisters and a sister-in-law among others. His son died in 2003.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.