RAVENSWOOD - Inspiration.
Some people look for it at their place of worship. Others will find it in a song or poem.
In the small Ohio River town of Ravenswood, however, you only have to look at one place, a large shade tree located between the school and its baseball field. There you will find Dave Hood, a 1974 graduate, watching first-year head football coach Mick Price taking the Red Devils through drills as they prepare to open the 2012 campaign.
Members of the Ravenswood High School football team pose with Dave Hood during the squad’s annual media day earlier this month at Flinn Field. Hood, a former three-sport standout at Ravenswood, is battling ALS, but he hasn’t let his condition keep him from attending Ravenswood High practice sessions or sports event. Hood has become an inspirational figure to team members.
"He (Dave) is going through a tough time, physically," explained Price, who has coached the boys' basketball team since 1978. "But, he is my inspiration because every day he gets up, and I know it is tough on him, and yet he goes and does stuff and never complains about it."
Hood, a member of the 1972 team that won the Class AA state football championship, was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, it is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.
Symptoms usually do not develop until after the age of 50. Persons with ALS have a loss of muscle strength and coordination that eventually gets worse. This eventually makes one unable to do routine tasks such as going up steps, getting out of a chair, or swallowing.
"Right now, he cannot raise his arms and he can not walk as well as he could before," continued Price. "Last year, he began walking to games or to the bus, but as the season continued it became necessary for him to get a wheelchair."
Hood's fight against the disease best known for ending the baseball career of New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig has become a source of inspiration, not only for his longtime friend Price, but for all of the athletes that don the red and black colors.
"He's a great guy and he keeps on fighting," said junior quarterback Heath Burgess. "Seeing what he is going through, and he never complains, is a real inspiration to me and the other guys on our team."
Guys like senior tackle Brad Titus.
"I've known Dave since I was a freshman," explained Titus. "He's at everything. When they have the 'feed the team night' he's there. When he had his truck, he'd bring us our drinks after practice. He's always around.
"It's horrible that a person has to go through a thing like that (ALS), but he's trooping right through it. Bad news doesn't matter. He's still there all of the time."
And, the former-football/basketball/baseball player for the Red Devils has become a constant figure on the bench with Price.
"We developed a good relationship over midget league basketball," said Hood, who was an assistant coach on the 1999 team that captured the state baseball crown. "I like watching him (Price) coach. He knows the game and he has a love of the game.
"He puts everything he's got into it. He is a tireless worker."
Words that could just as easily be used to describe Hood.
"I guess it goes back to 1978 when I came here," Price explained. "Dave was here starting a family and working at the power plant in Mason. I first met him working with the midget league and we have been friends ever since."
And, the duo have been nearly inseparable as well.
At one point during last year's basketball season, Hood's condition made it too difficult for him to board the team's bus. Price's solution was to load his wheelchair into the back of his car and drive with his longtime assistant to and from the games.
"We had some great conversations on those trips," added Price. "You look at a man like Dave and what he is battling and it makes you think twice about complaining when your back is sore or your throat hurts because you've been yelling too much."
There is one thorn between these two roses, however.
"He's a Pittsburgh Steelers fan," exclaimed Hood, an assistant on Ravenswood's 2009 Class AA state basketball championship team. "I'm a Cleveland Browns fan."