By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The “Getting to Know” series was created to learn more about the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Today, we get to know Windham High School athletic director D.J. Gross, who is in his 10th year at the school.
A: Champion, Ohio.
Q: High school?
A: Champion High School (Class of 2001). Played baseball and basketball.
A: University of Mount Union (Class of 2005). Degree in education, health education and multi-age education.
Q: Current occupation?
A: Teacher and athletic director.
Q: What inspired you to go into education and also to coach?
A: I had great teachers in high school, who helped guide me into teaching and coaching.
Q: What makes working at Windham special to you?
A: The people. From the kids to the teachers, coaches and community members that I see at games. I feel very fortunate to be able to work in Windham. They have made me feel at home since the day I got here, and I am very grateful for that.
Q: Who was your biggest influence?
A: My dad coached me throughout my youth sports playing days. I learned a tone from him about baseball, basketball and how to work hard.
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your playing days?
A: In college, a call was made that went against our team and one of my teammates said something he shouldn’t have. The umpire turned around and immediately ejected him for it, only he didn’t know exactly who it was that said it. He decided to pick someone from the dugout to eject, and he chose me. I was ejected from a game in college for something I didn’t even do.
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your coaching career?
A: When I was coaching girls basketball in North Carolina, I had a girl hit a game-winning shot with around 1 second left. While everyone was jumping up and down and going crazy, I did not react at all. I was too worried about the fact that there was still time left. After the game, the girl’s dad who made the shot, couldn’t believe that I showed no emotion to the shot and gave me a hard time about it.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: The Curse of Oak Island or Aerial America.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: The Sandlot.
Q: Favorite musical artist?
Q: Favorite food?
A: Chicken wings.
Q: Best vacation?
A: Our honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii.
Q: Shoutout to former teammates?
A: Nate Kish, Bryan Phillips, Jeff Kovack, Matt Packman.
Q: Favorite motto?
A: Approach every situation with a positive attitude.
Q: Describe your educational philosophy?
A: If it is best for the kids, then it is the best choice.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
Q: Favorite teacher from high school?
A: Mrs. Hite.
Q: Advice you would give the younger version of yourself?
A: Live in the moment because it goes by fast.
Q: Favorite coach from your playing days?
A: Jeff Rasile, Bob Sentner.
Q: Coaching resume?
A: Champion middle school 8th grade basketball (2005-06); Mathews High School JV baseball (2006); Davis Drive Middle School girls basketball (2006-08); Davis Drive Middle School baseball head coach (2007-09); Mills Park middle school girls basketball (2010-13); Windham Junior High volleyball (2013); Windham Junior High girls basketball (2013-14); Windham High School JV baseball (2013); Windham High School baseball head coach (2019); Windham High School baseball assistant (2020-21); Windham High School athletic director (2014-present).
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Guardians, Ohio State Buckeyes.
Q: Favorite athlete then?
A: Omar Vizquel.
Q: Favorite athlete now?
A: Nick Chubb.
Q: First job as a teenager?
A: I had a paper route in the fourth grade that I had until I graduated high school, then my younger brother took it over.
Q: Family member that always gave you the best advice?
A: Both my mom and my dad have — and continue to — give me great advice and are always there when I need them.
Q: Favorite video game?
A: Tecmo Super Bowl or RBI Baseball.
Q: Favorite candy?
Q: First car?
A: 1988 Ford Ranger.
Q: Best friends?
A: My wife Sheri. I am also fortunate enough to have a large group of friends from high school and college that I still talk to and hang out with when time allows.