Jim Tressel presents ‘life lessons’ to Genoa students

Harold Hamilton

Because of the COVID 19 fears, lives have changed dramatically especially for students. The social distancing has required home schooling and virtual classes.
By now this may be getting a bit boring for some youth, so to help alleviate that Genoa middle school and high school students were invited to join in on a Zoom video conference with a special guest. Using their school furnished Chromebooks, they had more than an hour of casual conversation and a question and answer session with Jim Tressel, president of Youngstown State University.
It was set up by Chris Mathews, a Genoa teacher, and Christine Danoff, technology integration specialist who made the webinar possible for the Genoa students and staff.
Tressel began by addressing the problems we are currently facing. He said, like any difficult time he found throughout his 45-year career in higher education, that one needs to get back to fundamentals. At Youngstown State for 15 years and Ohio State University for 10, he has always talked to his students and student-athletes about looking at life as a journey.
“We always felt that to be successful there were four basic components,” Tressel said. “First and foremost, we felt you needed to develop a plan. Set goals and put your thoughts, dreams, and visions to paper. Then, you can periodically refer to them and see if you are making progress. Every team at YSU and OSU made their own personal blueprint for what they wanted to achieve.
The second fundamental, after you have the plan, was to be sure to remind ourselves every year that we had to go to work. There was nothing that did not take an extroadinary amount of work. There were no shortcuts to any good dream if it is worthwhile,” Tressel continued.
“OK, we have a plan and we are going to work. The third and most important fundamental is to remind ourselves before the journey began that, along the way we would have to handle adversity and success. It is always easier to handle adversity than success. Adversity is a natural reaction, we are human. We get knocked down, we get up, dust ourselves off, determine how to make it better and move forward.
“Success is a little bit harder. Nine times in the 25 years on the last day of the season we were playing for the national championship. Along the way in each of those years there was adversity and success. If we relaxed after we were successful, we probably did not progress as far as we could have. We had to constantly remind ourselves that even when things were going the way we hoped, we could not relax. We constantly reminded ourselves that it was not a matter of if we had adversity but when and how were we going to handle it.
“I think that all of us will remember 2020 regardless of how old we are, whether you are an eighth grader or 100 years old. We are going to remember the adversity that was presented us. This is even more difficult because we really do not know how long it is going to last. If we lost a game or had a bad season, we knew it was over and the next day we could get up and start over and get ready for the next season. We do not know the length of this adversity and that is what will teach us some valuable lessons.
“The fourth and final fundamental — we constantly reminded ourselves that we believed that we were going to accomplish our goals. We had the blueprint, we put the work in, we would handle the adversity and we had to believe that we were going to get there.
“I look at what is going on in our country and all the stuff that all of us are going through we are going to get through it. Some will do a better job of handling the adversity and the time that was spent while others may regress a little. I believe we are going to get through it and be a better nation and world. You need to decide are you going to be a better student, school, a better team, a better individual ultimately. We must believe that we will.”
About Jim Tressel.
 It is difficult to believe that there is anyone out there who does not know of Tressel’s accomplishments, but here are a few of the highlights.
Tressel played quarterback for his father at Baldwin-Wallace College and won league honors. He had a 35-year career coaching football as a position coach or head coach.
Most notable, Tressel was head coach at Youngstown State where his teams won four NCAA Division I-AA (now D-I FCS) national championships in 15 years.
He also was head coach at Ohio State for 10 years where his teams played in three national championship games, winning the title in 2002. The 2002 team achieved the first 14-0 season record at a major college in over 100 years (1897 Pennsylvania).
Tressel’s teams won six Big Ten conference championships and they went 8-1 against archrival Michigan. The only OSU coach to win more than eight games against Michigan was Woody Hayes who coached 28 years and won 16 games against the Wolverines. No OSU coach has won seven consecutive games against the team up north except for Tressel.
Tressel has spent 45 years in higher education and has been the president of Youngstown State University since 2014.
Harold Hamilton is a freelance photographer who lives in Northwood. He can be reached at hehphotos@bex.net or visit www.HEHphotos.smugmug.com.


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