Tressel Applies Football Lessons to Life

Click on the link to hear Jim Treesel's full audio: http://www.franciscan.edu/imagebase/content/Tressel.mp3

STEUBENVILLE, OH—"There are only a few coaches in the football Hall of Fame, but all of us can be in God's hall of fame," Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel said at Franciscan University of Steubenville's 43rd annual Century Club Dinner on April 17.

A poem Tressel reads often, he said, reminds him to keep focused on God as the priority in his life, because the reward of eternity is greater than the fame and praise of others.

"Football is a man-made star, and it's a regional one at best," Tressel said. "But God's Hall of Fame—that's what it's about."

Prior to Tressel's talk, four men received the Century Club's President's Award for their exemplary careers and commitment to working with youth: Abe Bryan, Earl Cramblett, Tedd Kwasniak, and Niall O'Mahony.

Abe Bryan served as the Steubenville High School football coach from 1964 to 1972, and is best known for leading Big Red to a 9-1 season in 1966. He was also instrumental in making Big Red a member of the All-American Conference and called for the expansion of Harding Stadium. Bryan has two bronze stars for his service in the U.S. Marine Corps at Saipan and at Iwo Jima. He continues to actively support Steubenville and Ohio football since retiring in 1972.

Mentioning the presence of Reno Saccoccia, Big Red's present football coach, Bryan said, "I feel real honored being here with such men as Father Mike (Scanlan) and Father Richard (Davis), Coach Tressel, and Coach Reno Saccoccia. These three men are unbelievable in their success.

"I have high regard for coaches. I want to mention Coach Tressel—he's my hero, and when I grow up, I want to be just like him. He's not only a credit to the coaching profession, he's a beautiful Christian person."

Earl Cramblett put the "service" in "service station" for nearly 60 years as owner of the BP Service Station on University Boulevard in Steubenville. For many years he took care of vehicles for Franciscan University's Physical Plant and Holy Spirit Friary and made a special effort to help students. Cramblett has served on the Franciscan University Board of Advisors and now is a member of the Century Club.

Cramblett said, "It's been my pleasure to be associated with the University. They think I was doing them a favor, but they were doing me a favor. It made me feel good every day to help out the University."

Tedd Kwasniak ’64 is a legendary Ohio high school basketball coach, after winning back-to-back state championships in 1994 and 1995 at Villa Angela – St. Joseph High School in Cleveland. A coach for 43 years, he also coached at Mentor Lake High School and now coaches at Euclid City High School.

"In 43 years, you have a lot of memories and you coach a lot of great players," said Kwasniak. "But better than that, you coach a lot of great people. What I'm proud of is all the gentlemen that I've coached that have gone on to contribute to society."

Niall O'Mahony has been a dedicated supporter of the Baron rugby team since its inception in 2000. He came to the University on an admissions visit with his oldest daughter, ended up meeting the fledgling rugby team, and agreed to lend his experience to the Barons. O'Mahony played rugby from the age of 7 through his years at Dublin University in Ireland. After immigrating to the United States at 22, he founded a rugby club in New Jersey. For the past10 years, he has driven to six or seven Baron rugby games every season.

O'Mahony expressed his gratitude for the support of athletic director Chris Ledyard, the University's rugby coaches, and the hundreds of players he has come to know. He said, "I want to thank them for listening and for showing me their dignity, their passion, and in front of my eyes I could see them become warriors for Christ. They were awesome, they are awesome, and the teacher became the student. They taught me how to be a better father, a better husband, a better boss, and a better Christian."

Tressel applied the lessons he has learned in football to life and his relationship with God and with others. He said the Buckeyes are currently in spring practice, working on their fundamentals. He met a priest during his time as a coach at Syracuse University in the early 1980s who taught him fundamentals for life.

"The game plan for life, that focus for God's hall of fame, is this simple: God only wants three things from us.

"God wants us to know him. He wants us to sit on his lap and just get to know him, to have a relationship with him." Tressel said the fundamentals for getting to know God are an investment of time, just as in football, and they include spending time in prayer, reading Scripture, spending time in fellowship, and being a disciple and a mentor.

Tressel said, "God simply wants us to love him. He wants us to love him by loving our families, by loving others, and by loving people we don't even know. By loving all of his people, we love him.

"Lastly, God wants us to serve him, and really he wants us to serve him by serving others." Tressel acknowledged Franciscan University students and the President's Award recipients as people whose passion it is to serve others.

Referring to the game plan of life, he said, "It's not hard to figure out, but to execute, that's the difficult part, because this world is distracting."

Tressel had words of hope and encouragement for Franciscan University student-athletes. He said, "What a special time it is for Franciscan University to be able to go out to the NCAA world to compete against folks from many different places, being that window through which someone might look and see Franciscan University, or more importantly, being that window that someone might look through to see God, and to decide that they want to know him, learn to love him, and grow to serve him."

The dinner served as a fundraiser for Franciscan University's Century Club, which financially supports the University's academic and athletic programs. Century Club Chairman Bob Hickey said, "Our students deserve a premier NCAA Division III athletic experience. This community deserves it, the University deserves it, and it's time. It's time because our students strive for excellence in everything they do—excellence in the classroom, excellence in humility and prayer, and absolutely excellence on the athletic fields."

Hickey said Century Club is working to raise $500,000 as the beginning of a "facelift" project for Finnegan Fieldhouse. The funds would allow for a welcoming entranceway, an expanded weight room, and an improved locker room. The Century Club also plans to name the indoor basketball and volleyball court "Kuzma Court" in honor of Hank Kuzma, the legendary coach who led the 1958 Barons basketball team to national recognition as the “Number One Small College Basketball Team in the U.S."

To donate to the renovation effort, click here.

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