Meet Dave Boroff, a 1974 graduate of Van Wert High School and artist behind the COUGAR PRIDE wall.
Boroff was sitting in drafting class on a cold November morning in 1973, just weeks after his senior football season came to a disheartening end, when he found himself staring at the blank, less-than attractive wall on the north end of the stadium. Two words that first-year head coach, Jim Hamman, had written in his playbook were heavy on his mind: COUGAR PRIDE.
“That was the first time Van Wert football had a winless season. We had finally hit rock bottom, and I sat there and thought about all the players that played there, like Willie Hernandez, and I knew Van Wert was better than that,” Boroff said.
Disappointed with the outcome of the season and thinking about all the great players who came before him, Boroff was inspired to motivate players for years to come by adding some life, color, and meaningful words to the stadium. He presented the idea of painting COUGAR PRIDE on the wall to his drafting teacher, Mr. Nicholas Klutka. Klutka loved the idea and encouraged Boroff to pursue it by taking measurements of the wall and drawing the letters to scale; once complete, Boroff presented the idea and total estimate to Superintendent Mr. Goedde, who gave the green light, and the rest is history—literally!
Boroff had a mere two weeks to paint the entire wall—letters and cougar head included before graduation day, which was to be held at the football stadium. He’s proud to say he was able to achieve the goal, but he did not do it alone. Boroff credits his late classmate, Mike Geisman, amongst a handful of others who assisted in painting the wall. “I was having a hard time getting people out of study hall,” Boroff said. “Mike, who was born with brittle bone disease, came out in his wheelchair and helped me paint.”
The COUGAR PRIDE wall was designed quite literally at rock bottom. Since then, the Van Wert Cougar football program has risen from the ashes, claiming a state title along the way; yet, more importantly, the program continues a legacy of pride to our community, due in large part to Boroff’s artistic design.