Great Ohio athletes and coaches

By Denise Turney
Ohio is one of the larger populated states in America. Known as the Buckeye State, Ohio is home to more than 11 million people. People born and/or raised in Ohio know that outside of Cleveland and Cincinnati, many cities in the state are small. Surprisingly, these small towns have produced some of the country’s and world’s greatest athletes.

Ohio is home to some of the world’s best athletes

Chief amongst Ohio’s great athletes, people who went to the top of their sport on a global scale, are Dayton’s Edwin Moses and Akron’s LeBron James. Edwin earned top honors in track and field for the 400 meter hurdles. He won gold medals in the 1976 and 1984 Olympics. Edwin also ran his way to a remarkable 107 consecutive finals. You’ll be hard pressed to find another athlete in any other sport who’s won more than 100 competitions in a row!

LeBron James started out with the Cleveland Cavaliers then went to play for the Miami
Heat. As an active athlete, LeBron James has won two NBA championships (both win the Miami Heat) so far. He has won four NBA MVP titles. Lebron James has also won an Olympic gold medal. The way he’s been playing, there are more to come: both for MVP titles and Olympic medals. LeBron’s star continues to rise. It remains to be seen how far this athletic phenom will go.

Jesse Owens was born on September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama. However, Jesse Owens would later claim Ohio as his home. This track and field phenom’s nickname was the “Buckeye Bullet.” It was at the 1936 Olympics that Jesse Owens won an impressive four gold medals (100 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 4 by 100 meter relay). Carl Lewis is the only other men’s track and field athlete who has medaled in sprints and a field event.

Cleveland, Ohio native, Madeline Manning, won an Olympic gold medal in 1968. She is the first woman to break the two minute barrier in the 800 meters. Four years after winning the gold medal, Madeline returned to the 1972 Olympics and took home the silver medal.
Other great Ohio athletes include Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, another Ohioan who grew up in a small town. Born in Lima, Ohio, Ben Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl Championships. He’s also led the Steelers to three AFC Championships and played in two NFL Pro Bowls.

  • Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach, Chuck Noll, is also from Ohio, namely Cleveland. Coach Chuck Noll guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl Championships.
  • NFL analyst and former NFL wide receiver, Cris Carter, was born in Middleton, Ohio.
  • Archie Griffin, Ohio State University running back and winner of two Heisman trophies, was born in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Baseball great, Pete Rose, earned National League MVP in 1973. He went on to win a World Series two years later in 1975. Not only was Pete Rose born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he also played baseball for the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Mike Schmidt is another MLB great who’s from Ohio. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Mike was a phenom for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was a monster at third base!
  • John Havlicek, born in Lansing, Ohio, led the Boston Celtics to eight NBA titles. He was elected to the NBA all-star team an impressive 13 times.
  • Don Shula is another winning coach from Ohio. Born in Plainesville, Ohio, Don Shula led the Miami Dolphins to the winningest season in the NFL. He also won two Super Bowl Championships.

Bobby Knight and Woody Hayes are two other great coaches from Ohio. Home for Bobby is Orryville, Ohio. Woody Hayes was born in Clifton, Ohio. These cities are so small, many people have never heard of them. Yet, these men’s passion for basketball (Bobby Knight) and football (Woody Hayes) propelled them to the top. Bobby Knight got his recognition coaching at Indiana University (not to mention his postgame interviews), while Woody Hayes took the Ohio State Buckeyes to 238 wins and 10 championships.

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Famous Athletes Setting Good Examples

By Denise Turney

Last night I watched ESPN’s “30 for 30” sports documentary about professional athletes who go broke, many because they mismanaged their money. To say it was painful to watch the show is an understatement. It was absolutely hard to watch people who once had millions, some hundreds of millions of dollars, be deep in debt within 10 or fewer years after they retired from their sport. Watching the television documentary reminded me of the importance of being a good steward (manager) of what has been given to me. Watching the ESPN sports television documentary also reminded me of how quickly the high times can end.

Famous Athletes Learning from Their Mistakes

The ESPN sports television documentary made me think about examples of excess some famous athletes set. Professional athletes who appeared on the sports documentary where forthcoming. They didn’t appear to pull any punches. I appreciate that. It’s not easy to expose clay-feet-thinking in such a public way, especially considering the fact that we all have made mistakes. It was refreshing to see professional athletes who learned from their mistakes or who always managed their finances sensibly. Considering the fact that several of the professional athletes who went broke or filed bankruptcy gave others legal access to their finances and directed others to manage their money, I couldn’t help wondering if it should be a requirement for professional athletes to take accredited money management courses before signing sports contracts. This way, they might have the confidence to manage their own finances.

After the sports documentary, I thought about famous athletes who regularly set good examples, men and women who manage their money and their personal lives well, in ways that can yield years of reward. I thought about track runner, Jesse Owens, and how he handled himself both in and outside his sport. Memories of a former colleague sharing the story of her cousin, a man who played in major league baseball (MLB), who decided to step away from the sport after his wife and he added to their family. He wanted to spend more time with his wife and children. That’s a choice few famous athletes would likely make, but one this former professional baseball player never did regret.

Professional Athletes Who Are Real Champions

Then there’s Kai Greene, a professional bodybuilder, and a man who doesn’t promote excess, but who instead promotes inner vision, focus and using the strength of our minds. It was inspiring to see him commit to achieving his goal, winning Mr. Olympia, just two days after he took second place in the 2012 event. It’s refreshing to see professional athletes be secure in themselves and not need to make an appearance everywhere they go. It’s refreshing to see professional athletes truly (and I mean truly) put their children in front of the sport they compete in (not just in word or during interviews but in every day behind the scenes life from the time their children are born).

These professional athletes show that making it to the big leagues doesn’t mean you’ve become the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, someone with illusions of power. They show kids that, anyone with a dream, focus, commitment, drive, passion and talent can do what they have done. They encourage rather than discourage others to outperform them after they retire, not fearing that another athlete will eclipse their records. They root for the entire human race, not just themselves. They’re winners, real champions.

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