Talawanda Football Coach Vonderheide Forced Out


Former Talawanda High School Football Coach J.D. Vonderheide holds the ball for the kicker Tyler Engelhard during a practice this past season. Vonderheide stepped down as coach on Tuesday. Photo by Shelby Frieszell

By Halie Barger

The Talawanda School District forced veteran football coach J.D. Vonderheide to resign this week, after a 2-8 season.

Talawanda hasn’t had a winning season since 2014, and the 2014 season was only the third time in school history that they have made it to the playoffs.

“It’s like anything, and it’s a part of the business. At the end of the day, we didn’t win any games,” Vonderheide told the Observer on Thursday.

Vonderheide is a physical education teacher at the high school, and will remain in that position, said Holli Morrish, the district’s director of communications.

Vonderheide said the administration asked him to step down and he submitted his resignation on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Vonderheide met with the team to officially announce that he would not be returning.

“There was some shaking of heads, some tears. I shed some tears,” Vonderheide said. “I was pretty emotional about it, and I still am.”

Morrish said the district is looking to hire a new coach soon.

“We want to hire someone as soon as we find a good quality candidate,” she said. “We want to find someone as quickly as possible, so there’s not a big break in the program.”

Talawanda Athletic Director Wes Cole said Thursday that there haven’t been any expressions of interest yet, however the job was just posted this week.

“We’re looking for someone who is going to come in, motivate the kids and build the program up,” Cole said.

Since Vonderheide started in 2012, the varsity football team has won just 17 games out of 71 played.

Longtime Talawanda football announcer Joe Pyfrin said that Vonderheide will be missed.

“I have absolutely nothing but best wishes for him and his family, and hopes that he can continue his relationship with Talawanda,” Pyfrin said.

Earlier this year, the board of education heard complaints about Talawanda’s athletic participation, and performance numbers. To remedy the participation problem, the board voted to eliminate the pay-to-participate fee.

Vonderheide hopes that the new coach will be well received with the team, so they can have successful seasons, although he will miss the experiences.

“The most important thing is the over 400 kids I was able to develop relationships with and have an impact on,” Vonderheide said.
The job is posted on Talawanda’s website. More information about the job will be available at a later date, Cole said.