SALINEVILLE - Dan Saling may be gone in body, but his spirit lives on.
On Thursday, the first Dan Saling Memorial Football Camp concluded at Southern Local.
The camp, for grades K-6, was organized by 2012 Southern Local graduate Kyle Exline.
The first Dan Saling Memorial Football Camp wrapped up on Thursday evening in Salineville. The K-6 youth camp was organized by 2012 Southern Local graduate Kyle Exline in memory of former Indians’ coach Dan Saling. (Photo by Paul Edgar)
"I felt like it was a good way to give back,"?Exline said. "We got to put the name of our coach out there. He was a man who helped us out with football and with life. He gave us some great advice that we still carry with us. We wanted to make sure these younger kids still got to hear those words."
Exline didn't have any trouble recruiting help for the camp as other former grads jumped at the opportunity, including Nathan Melhorn, Josh Melhorn, Michael Hipsley, Trey Griffith and Zack Puckett.
Saling took over the head coaching duties at Southern Local on June 25, 2008.
His time leading the Indians was much too short, however.
The tragic passing of the beloved Saling came just hours after celebrating the graduation of his twin daughters, Julia and Jennifer.
Saling, in his only season with the team as head coach, led Southern to a 7-3 record which was the best finish for the school in the previous 30 years.
The Southern football community joined the Saling family in remembering their friend at St. Paul's Cemetery with more than 50 current and former players wearing their jerseys in remembrance.
But the story doesn't end there. Now, the memory and wisdom Saling shared with his players will live on through the camp.
Saling's wife, Nancy, spoke to the youth on Thursday trying to impart some of the lessons her late husband held close to his heart.
"This is who my husband was," she said as she pointed to the Southern Local players and community members who were in attendance. "Football is a great game, but what you learn from the sport is so much more important. You learn that these guys are your brothers. You learn to take care of the guy beside you.
"The game is sweet, but the fellowship is even better, the brotherhood. There can only be 11 on the field at one time, but it takes a team, a brotherhood to be successful. And winning isn't the only mark of success. It's what you learn about helping each other out."