Out of his comfort zone

Wolford 2-1-12

Head football coach Eric Wolford will narrate “Lincoln’s Portrait” as a part of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra’s performance on Saturday. Photo by Joe Catullo Jr./The Jambar.

Head football coach Eric Wolford’s voice carries throughout the Ice Castle on game day. But on Saturday he’ll be joining the symphony as a guest narrator.

The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra will host “Lincoln’s Portrait,” a compilation of addresses given by Abraham Lincoln. 

Led by conductor Randall Craig Fleischer, the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra will perform Aaron Copland’s patriotic 1942 “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Wolford will recite segments from the Gettysburg Address and other historic dialogues.

Youngstown Symphony Society President Patricia Syak said Wolford was the right man for the job.

“We thought it was a great collaboration between the university and the symphony, and because the coach is an outstanding member of the community,” Syak said. 

Wolford agreed.

“I am all about the community. I have never told anyone ‘no’ since I’ve been here for two years,” he said. “I have never declined an invitation to help out or do something unless I had a prior engagement. I thought it would be fun.” 

This is Wolford’s first time narrating for the symphony.

“I am very nervous about it. I am actually probably more nervous about that than coaching a football game because it’s out of my comfort zone,” Wolford said. “I’m a believer in ‘you have to get out of your comfort zone.'”

Community involvement at Wolford’s level is what Syak is looking for in the future.

“I think that we would love to find other individuals at the university to work with us, and other people from the community,” she said. “We try to incorporate the people in the area with the things the symphony does.”

Wolford said he hopes his involvement with the symphony will teach his football players and colleagues a valuable lesson.

“I think it’s good for them and even my coaching staff. They like to poke fun at me about doing it, but it’s good for me, and it’s good for them,” Wolford said. “My wife’s excited; my kids are excited; a lot of people in the community are excited. They want to see if I can do it.”

Trevor Parks, sports information director, said he is having a “date night” with his wife and another couple for Wolford’s performance.

“I’m going as a fan to watch him, support him and see what kind of trouble he can get himself into,” Parks said.

Parks said he is excited to see what the show will be like, and thinks the collaboration between the symphony and athletics is a nice change of pace.

“I think it’s pretty cool. A lot of times we don’t get to do stuff like this,” he said. “I know he is excited, and I know the symphony is excited. I support him 100 percent.”

Wolford said everyone in the community has an obligation to make it a better place, and this kind of involvement is the first step.

“I think that’s part of being a college student; I think that’s part of being at this university. We all have an opportunity to do that whether it’s community involvement or helping kids,” he said. “There are a lot of kids today that need us. If they don’t get themselves straightened out between now and when they graduate high school, they won’t be going to college.”

Wolford will practice with the orchestra on Saturday afternoon and perform at 8 p.m.