COLUMBUS - For the seventh consecutive year, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has selected individuals who had prominent roles in the history of Ohio interscholastic athletics to be honored as part of the Association's Circle of Champions program. This year's five honorees will be recognized during the OHSAA Boys State Basketball Tournament March 21-23 at Ohio State's Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Honored during the Division IV semifinal game that tips off at 10:45 a.m. on Friday, March 21, will be Chris Spielman. He will also receive the Association's 2012 Ethics and Integrity Award. Recognized during the Division IV championship game that begins at 4:30 will be Michael Redd, Earle Bruce, Paul Warfield and Rex Kern.
Chris Spielman first gained recognition as an All-American football player at Massillon Washington High School. He went on to become a two-time All-American and three-time All-Big Ten linebacker at Ohio State, where he won the Lombardi Award in 1987 and team MVP. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. Spielman went on to play in the NFL, spending his first eight seasons with the Lions. He never missed a game, led the team in tackles each year, was twice All-Pro and played in four Pro Bowls. He then played in Buffalo in 1996 and 1997 before a neck injury ended his career in Cleveland two years later. Chris is well known nationally as a college football analyst for ESPN Television and locally as a sports talk show contributor with WBNS-Radio in Columbus.
Chris has also shown tremendous dedication to his family. His wife Stefanie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, and the couple worked tirelessly to raise awareness for the disease and support for the Stefanie Spielman Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, which has grown into a nationally recognized fund. Stephanie lost her battle to cancer in 2009, but Chris has carried on her fight and spirit in breast cancer awareness along with his daughters Maddie, Macy and Audrey and son Noah. A book released last fall called "That's Why I'm Here" not only provides highlights of Spielman's playing career but also chronicles Stefanie's journey as a way to help other cancer victims in their struggles. Ohio State also recently renamed its breast cancer facility in Stefanie's honor.
Michael Redd was a standout basketball player at Columbus West High School and Ohio State. He started all 96 games as a Buckeye, is one of OSU's career scoring leaders and helped the team reach the Final Four in 1999. Redd played in the NBA 12 seasons, including 11 with Milwaukee. He was selected to the 2004 NBA All-Star Game and was on the U.S. Olympic Team that won the gold medal in 2008 in Beijing. He holds the Milwaukee record with 57 points in a game and the NBA record by making eight three-point field goals in one quarter.
Michael has also dedicated his life to faith and has worked hard to make life better for people in the Greater Columbus and Milwaukee areas in his work with various foundations, charitable organizations and events. He and his wife, Achea, live in the Columbus area and have a son and a daughter.
While not a Buckeye by birth, there's no question that Earle Bruce is all Buckeye. A football player and student coach at Ohio State, Bruce graduated in 1953, then began a stellar high school coaching career in Ohio as an assistant at Mansfield Senior before compiling a 10-year record of 82-12-3 as the head coach at Salem, Sandusky and Massillon Washington high schools. His two Massillon teams went 20-0 with two wire service state championships.
In 1966, Bruce was hired as an assistant by Woody Hayes at Ohio State, where he served for six years and was part of the 1968 National Championship team. He then embarked on a 21-year career as the head coach at five different universities. The successor to Hayes at Ohio State, Earle was the Buckeyes' head coach between 1979 and 1987, guiding his teams to an 81-26-1 record with four Big Ten championships. Earle has four daughters, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 56 years, Jean, passed away in 2011. Earle spends part of the year in Central Ohio, where he is a college football analyst for WTVN-Radio, and part of the year in Florida.
Paul Warfield graduated from Warren Harding High School in 1960. He was a standout running back in football, and he was twice a state track & field champion, winning the long jump as a sophomore and setting a new state record in the 180-yard low hurdles as a senior. Warfield attended Ohio State and earned a bachelor's degree in 1970. He was a two-time all-Big Ten halfback who helped the 1961 football team win the Football Writers Association of America National Championship, and he was a two-time All-American in track & field, winning the Big Ten long jump two straight years.
A first round draft pick of Cleveland in 1964, Warfield helped the Browns win their most recent NFL championship that year when he moved to receiver full-time. Beginning in 1970, he spent five years in Miami, helping the team win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973, with the '72 squad still holding the NFL record as the league's only undefeated Super Bowl champion. He retired in 1977.
Warfield was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983. He was All-Pro six times and played in the Pro Bowl eight times. He earned his master's degree from Kent State in 1977 and served several years in different scouting and executive positions for the Browns. Retired and living in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Paul and his wife, Beverly, have two children and one grandson, who will accompany Paul back to Ohio this weekend.
Rex Kern was a three-sport star at Lancaster High School, graduating in 1967. He helped both the basketball and baseball teams reach the OHSAA state tournaments. A high school All-American in football and basketball, Kern was drafted by baseball's Kansas City Athletics out of high school but instead played both basketball and football at Ohio State as a freshman when first-year players were ineligible for varsity competition. A back injury during his freshman basketball season ended his career on the hardwood.
Kern started at quarterback as one of the heralded "Super Sophomores" in 1968, and helped lead the Buckeyes to the National Championship when the team went 10-0, defeated Michigan 50-14 and beat O.J. Simpson and Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, when Rex was the game MVP. It would be Ohio State's last national title until the 2002 team won it 34 year later. Kern helped the Buckeyes go 27-2 in his three years. Among his many honors have been induction into the College Football, Rose Bowl and Ohio State athletic halls of fame.
After college, he played defensive back for four years for the Colts and Bills before retiring due to his back problems. Kern holds three degrees from Ohio State and is retired as a business executive. He met his wife Nancy at the 1969 Rose Bowl where she was a Rose Bowl princess. The Kerns live in Camarillo, Calif., and have two sons and four grandchildren.
Past honorees in the OHSAA Circle of Champions program have been: 2007-Todd Blackledge; Jay Burson; Dean Chance; Archie Griffin; Bill Hosket; Clark Kellogg; Dante Lavelli (since deceased); Cindy Noble Hauserman, and Katie Smith; 2008-Galen Cisco; Jim Lachey; Susan Nash Sugar, and Bill Willis (posthumously); 2009-Robin Freeman; LeBron James; Larry Siegfried (since deceased); Dick Schafrath, and Mary Wineberg; 2010-Howard "Hopalong" Cassady; Jerry Lucas; Al Oliver; Jesse Owens (posthumously), and Tony Trabert; 2011-Harrison Dillard; Wayne Embry; John Havlicek; Jim Houston; Madeline Manning Mims, and Phil Niekro, and 2012-Barry Clemens; Bob Hoying; LaVonna Martin-Floreal; Butch Reynolds; Dick Snyder, and Gene Tenace.
Other awards that will be presented during Saturday's championship games at this year's boys state tournament are as follows:
The OHSAA Naismith Memorial Awards, presented to two people for their meritorious service to the sport of basketball or interscholastic athletics: Mike Rotonda, who spent 44 years with the Columbus City Schools, including the last several years as director of student activities, before retiring in 2012, and the late Richard "Dick" Potts, a former basketball coach in Monroe County who spent 40 years coaching at Bethel, Skyvue and Hannibal River high schools and won 589 career games.
The OHSAA Coaches Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award: Joe Balogh, the head coach at Ontario High School since 1985 who has won over 400 career games.
The OHSAA Commissioner's Award for Exceptional Sportsmanship: Dublin Sells Middle School.
Recognition of special Ohio Athletic Trainers Association award winners: Trainer-of-the-Year Carrie Fister, an instructor and clinical education coordinator for the athletic training education program at the University of Akron since 2008; Hall of Fame inductee Kim Blackburn, who retired last year after 26 years as the athletic trainer at Strongsville High School, and Hall of Fame inductee Glade Pauley, a Hudson resident who is the general manager of companies specializing in sports medicine and orthopedic sales.
The 2013 OHSAA Ethics and Integrity Award recipient: Jolinda Miller, the athletic administrator at Cincinnati Hughes High School.