Tressel kicks off Curbstone return

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The Curbstone Coaches kicked off their spring session on Monday with Youngstown State President Jim Tressel serving as guest speaker.

The former Penguins and Ohio State University Buckeyes football head coach told the group gathered at Avion Banquet Center that the past 13 months have been a challenge for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a tremendous challenge for everybody. Institutionally, the athletic departments, I think it has been interesting to see the way that it has forced you to grow together, working with some people you’ve never worked with before,” Tressel said. “I didn’t even know we had an office of institutional, environmental and occupational health and safety because you didn’t hear about it, but we work with them every day and we worked with our colleagues every day.”

He said the goals have been the same for everyone.

“We’ve worked with other universities, the local health department and it’s been tough, but there’s no question that everyone has had the same goals in mind, and that is everyone’s safety,” he said. “While athletic departments have tested each student-athlete three times a week, they’ve done a great job with their safety protocols.

“It’s been a tough thing, because all of a sudden you don’t have a game that you’ve been practicing for all week. I think it’s been a great lesson for life because not everything goes the way you are planning it. This was a good exercise in being able to adjust.”

Tressel said he thinks YSU’s athletics teams have done well adapting during the pandemic.

“I think our teams have done a great job,” he said. “It starts with our athletic trainers because they’re the ones that have been in charge of the whole safety protocol. Then, our coaches being able to adjust, obviously our student-athletes because their grades have remained great and their performance on the field in their sports and everything else has also been good.”

He also feels the landscape is changing for coaches.

“This whole change in rules, the one-time transfer and now the name-image likeness that is coming along, as well as the transfer portal, I told (our women’s basketball player) McKenah Peters just today when we were visiting, because she wants to be a coach, that it’s going to be more difficult than when I became a coach,” Tressel said. “Because of these types of things, coaches are going to be so important to create relationships and help kids navigate.

“Sometimes, when you have a license to do things like they’re going to have, whether it’s the license to transfer or the license to go in and cash in on their name-image likeness or whatever, it’s just like our parents knew when we got our driver’s license, that there was danger. Well, when you get some licenses, there’s danger, so I think coaches are going to be so important in this transition.”

Tressel said football coach Doug Phillips will be fine.

“It’s so difficult the first year of anything,” he said. “We were here in 1986 and it was a difficult transition, getting to know people, getting to develop that trust and confidence in each other and know about each other, to know what each other is capable of, so in a pandemic and have a first-year transition, I can’t even imagine what Doug and his staff went through mentally.

“I think he held steady throughout the course of the year and the well-being of his players was No. 1. He’s got a young staff, like you always do when you come to a mid-level place, so I’ve been very pleased and think he’s going to end up having a good program here.”

Tressel has been a proponent of the Shuba-Robinson statue since its inception and is pleased that they will join the kickoff of YSU’s Summer Festival of the Arts for its unveiling on July 17.

“Those of us that remember that moment, its impact, maybe have read about it, the sports historians, we’ve been excited from the beginning,” he said. “I think what’s going to be cool about tying it in with the Summer Festival of the Arts is that we’re going to be able to educate people as to what occurred with a Youngtown person right in the middle of it.

“We’re going to commemorate that, we’re going to teach around that, which to me is the cool part. You’re not just going to have a statue that people are going to walk by. It’s going to turn into a classroom, so the fact that in a busy time, and usually with the Festival of the Arts, according to the weather, it could be anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 to 25,000 people that come to that, so there’s no better time to unveil that statue.”

Next Monday, Theresa Walton, first-year head coach of the YSU lacrosse team will serve as guest speaker.


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