By Henry Shorr
Jim Tressel ended his tenure as president of Youngstown State University this week. He has been a constant source of positive energy for most of my life, and I’m sad to see him go.
I grew up in Columbus, and I was eight years old when Tressel took over for John Cooper as head coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes. One year later, he took us all the way to a national championship.
After that, it was sweater-vest city in central Ohio. There were t-shirts with his face and name everywhere. There are probably pictures somewhere of me as a kid in a sweater vest on Halloween.
He was truly beloved.
He showed results, too. Coach Tressel only lost to University of Michigan one time, and that’s what we cared about. Some of my best memories happened in the Horseshoe during Tressel’s time as coach.
I will never forget OSU’s 2004 win against Marshall, in which Mike Nugent kicked a last-second, 55-yard field goal to win the game. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, my friend said, “if Marshall is still winning, let’s leave with five minutes to go.” I’m so glad we didn’t.
I had friends on the Ohio State football team when I went to school there who played for Coach Tressel. They would always talk about how he led the team with love and trust and that always shone through.
Whenever I would get to see him, he was always kind. He always remembered my name and asked how my mom was doing.
My mom had gotten close to the Tressels when I was in high school through some mutual friends and a few boards she sat on. They also had the Youngstown connection in Columbus, which is important outside of the Valley.
I was so glad to see him head back to Youngstown as president, knowing he was going home to a town and school he loved and was passionate about. That passion pervaded everything he did as president.
When I decided to come to Youngstown and enroll at YSU, I got a call from a phone number with a Youngstown area code. It was Coach Tressel welcoming me to the Mahoning Valley.
Now, whenever we talk, I still say “hey, coach,” and he still asks how my mom is doing.
To me, he’ll always be Coach Tressel. It exemplifies who he is. He wants to bring out the best in his team, whether it’s the Buckeyes, the Penguins or whoever he finds himself surrounded by.
Coach, I hope you and Ellen find success and happiness in your future endeavors, and I know that you will continue to spread kindness wherever you go.