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Thad Hoover

If he could not give 100 percent, 365 days a year, Rock Island girls basketball coach Thad Hoover did not believe he belongs in the business.

Hoover didn't think he could do that any longer. As a result, Hoover handed in his resignation Monday afternoon after 10 seasons.

"I am just at a point where I don't want to do something when I don't have the same energy and passion as I have always done it," Hoover said. "It has become very hard to do everything I do with basketball and still be a quality teacher. I have also never had a winter off.

"For 23 years I have put everything I have into my basketball teams and the energy just isn't there right now. I see the energy of some of our new coaches around the district and it worries me that I can't give that same energy to my girls."

Hoover, 46, just concluded his 23rd year as a varsity head coach. He spent time coaching in Greene, Iowa, along with Vinton-Shellsburg and Charles City before coming to Rock Island in 2008.

"It was a tremendous opportunity 10 years ago," Hoover said. "In my mind, when I accepted it, it was a high prestige job. I knew the accomplishments Rock Island athletics have had. I felt blessed to have that opportunity.

"I feel like I made the most of it. I knew it was going to be hard. What I had was an athletic director, Bob Swanson, who hired me and gave me his full support. Then, I had athletes who wanted to get the program back on top."

It didn't take long.

After two seasons of building, the Rocks started to win, and win big. They were 70-10 in Western Big Six games over Hoover's final eight seasons. Included were Big Six titles in the each of the last seven seasons and an ongoing streak of 30 consecutive conference wins.

"In Year 3, we really turned it around," Hoover said. "We went from being respectable locally to one of the best locally. Then, we went from respectable around the state to a very strong team in the state.

"It was all a matter of getting the people I needed to work with me in place. That made my job so much easier. It is fun to work when you have people around you spend time and help set up the youth program. After that third year, people started coming out of the woodwork to help.

"I was lucky to have great assistants — especially Henry Hall — and great sophomore coaches who got our teams prepared."

It was a game during that third season that told Hoover his program had arrived.

"Our first two seasons we got handled pretty easy by Moline," Hoover said. "We went over to Wharton Field House and beat them on their court. That made it feel like what we were doing wasn't a fluke. It was about learning how to win.

"We had two years of a 'not winning' culture. That group changed that. We finished second but we felt like we were on our way and you could see a lot of talent starting to build in the system."

That time was easily a major highlight in his career but the memory list is long for Hoover. He admits one of the biggest was getting to coach all three of his daughters — Whitney, Carlee and Mariah — the reason he switched from coaching boys to girls.

"I was trying to help the girls with camps and traveling around while I was coaching the boys," Hoover said. "I was able to go nine straight seasons with one of my daughters on the varsity. I would not trade that for the world."

Hoover believes Rock Island's program is in a great spot. It has captured four straight regional titles and made four consecutive trips to the Class 4A Sweet 16.

"I look at our program and feel like we are in a great spot," he said. "We went undefeated in the Big Six sophomore schedule. Our junior highs were both very talented and our sixth-grade group is strong. There is no reason this program won't continue to be a state power."

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