Community rallies around terminally ill former Lakeview coach, teacher

When one of Coach Hoye's former students found out about his battle with cancer, she took on a huge project to make sure he knew he is loved

coach dave hoye lakeview

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STONEBORO, Pa. (WKBN) – A community is rallying around Coach Dave Hoye, a longtime basketball coach and teacher at Lakeview High School who is battling terminal cancer.

Former students and players, who spent years learning from him, are making efforts to uplift him and preserve his legacy.

There are decades of history in the Lakeview High School gym hanging from the walls and on the hardwood floor where Coach Hoye spent some of the best years of his life alongside his longtime assistant, Coach Jack Cress.

“Respect the kids. He taught me that everything you did had to have a purpose,” Coach Cress said.

Hoye’s many championships in the 70s and 80s got him a place in the Mercer County Hall of Fame.

“Be gracious in winning, be gracious in losing,” Coach Cress continued. “And us, just have a smile on your face and be who you are, and be sincere.”

Now Coach Hoye has a new opponent, one he’s told he won’t beat — cancer. It’s called adenocarcinomatous, and his family said he likely has only months left to live.

Most people have had a special teacher or coach — someone who played a hand in what became helped shape their values, and the lessons they instill. For Delta Zahniser, who was a student at Lakeview in the 70s, that person is Coach Hoye.

In her 1977 yearbook, there’s a 40-year-old message on her favorite picture. It reads: “Keep the ball bouncing this summer and most of all, stay happy. Coach Hoye.”

When Zahniser found out about his battle, she put a call to the community on Facebook.

“And that he taught us, you gotta be strong in the fourth quarter,” Zahniser said. “And he has a tough opponent in this fourth quarter. I said as a community, as players, as colleagues, as students, let’s rally and be a team. And show him how much we care about him and how much we support him.”

The outpouring of support was instantaneous.

“I opened up a post office box and with that, I brought — because it was such a huge hit, so many people wanted to share — I brought a box, and every week I stop by to drop off card, after card, after card,” Zahniser said. “I would say, at least through my handling, we’ve had pushing to 70 cards that have come.”

Memories, lessons, stories; letters from students from across the country have poured in from people reaching out to Coach Hoye, who also taught for 38 years until he retired.

“I spread ’em out. Do five of them now, five of them later. The curious ones are the ones who don’t sign at the top,” Hoye said.

He said he’s not a very emotional person, and the support surprised him.

“He taught respect, he gave respect, and he got it back. It’s how you treat people that make a difference,” Zahniser said.

It’s more than letters, though. Coach Hoye was honored at Lakeview High School’s last home basketball game last week. He wasn’t strong enough to be there, but he was able to watch it.

“The community, friends… choked up. So much help that we’ve been given. It’s a good feeling,” he said.

There’s also a scholarship being put together in his name: “David Hoye Scholarship fund,” Zahniser said. “So that we can continue to honor him, and all he’s done forever.”

Also planned is a bench on school property in his honor. Coach Hoye hopes he’ll be able to take a picture on it.

“One of the best teachers ever in Lakeview and definitely one of the best coaches that ever has been at Lakeview,” Delta said.

For people interested in donating to the fund, contact Delta Zahniser at P.O. Box 13 Jackson Center, PA 16133.

Editor’s note: The video has an incorrect spelling of Coach Jack Cress’s name. This story has been corrected with the proper spelling. WKBN regrets the error.

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