Hope Gardner Van Grundy
Kendig Park in Hayesville, Ohio is where softball first started for Hope Gardner at the age of nine. Nightly, Hope could be found in the back yard under the old apple tree (which marked her pitchers mound), pitching to her Dad until dark. She had the desire and dedication to learn how to pitch from a young age. By the time Hope reached high school, her years of practice paid off as she played three years of varsity softball, two of which the Falcons were State Champions and one Final Four.
In 1994, Hope was starting third baseman. She was awarded the Falcon award from Coach Applegate and Special Mention from the Ashland Times-Gazette. The Falcons were the WCAL champs as well as State Champions.
After Lori Bach graduated in 1994, Hope became the starting pitcher in 1995. The Falcons made it to the Final Four in the state once again with a record of 24-5. Hope received several honors in 1995, she was named to First Team All-Ohio, First Team Pitcher Times-Gazette All-Area Softball Team, First Team Pitcher Wooster Daily Record, and First Team Pitcher All-Northeast District. She was fifth in the area in hitting with 38 hits and was the areas top strikeout leader with 168 K’s.
Hope’s Senior Year was definitely the most memorable as she pitched a no-hitter against Coldwater to become the 1996 State Champions. For the second consecutive year Hope was named First Team All-Ohio. Other honors were MVP in the WCAL, Player of the Year Ashland Times-Gazette. She led the area in strikeouts with 222 K’s. 1996 All Daily Record team, Honorable Mention Akron Beacon Journal, First Team Pitcher Mansfield News Journal, First Team Pitcher Wooster Daily Record, and First Team Northeast Ohio District.
Hope attended Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea before transferring to Ashland University her junior year. At Baldwin-Wallace, hope was named First Team All-OAC Pitcher and Second Team All-OAC Utility Player.
After the tragic loss of her dear friend and high school teammate Lisa Marth, Hope stopped playing ball for two years. She did continue college and earned her degree in Physical Education at Ashland University.
Hope’s love and admiration for her high school coaches Cathy Applegate and Ben Bolen gave her incentive to be a coach herself. She pursued her teaching career at Pickerington and became volleyball and softball coach. As pitching coach for the Pickerington Panthers, Hope helped coach the 2004 team to the Final Four at State.
Hope married Chance VanGundy in August of 2003. Chance is a teacher in Southwestern City Schools and the Head Wrestling Coach for Central Crossing High School. Together, Hope and Chance received their Masters Degrees in December of 2005. They reside in Columbus, Ohio.
Nominator: Robert & Marta Bolen