GALLIPOLIS — Legendary football coach Woody Hayes drummed up Buckeye spirit at the Bossard Memorial Library on Friday evening as part of the Gallipolis Chautauqua Committee’s Living History Nights.
The series, which began on Thursday, June 9, aims to educate the public about historical figures through portrayals and reenactments. The theme of this year’s events is “Notable Ohioans.” Other Ohio natives presented in the series include Union General George Armstrong Custer and frontier scout Mad Anne Bailey.
The evening with Coach Woody Hayes began with a pep rally featuring Gallia Academy High School’s cheerleaders, who led an audience dressed in scarlet and gray in The Ohio State cheers and songs like “Hang On Sloopy.”
Coach Hayes was portrayed by Jim Stoner, who discussed the importance of hard work, diligence, and teamwork.
“You parents can make a huge difference,” Stoner as Hayes implored the audience. He highlighted Hayes’s valuing of education and teamwork. Coaching, he said, is “building a unit that will support each other. That’s the most important thing: supporting each other. Pick ‘em up again. That’s what I love about football.”
Hayes, who was born in Clifton, played football and baseball at Denison University. After graduating, he taught and coached high school football in Mingo Junction in Jefferson County. He then served in the Navy in World War II, where he earned the rank of lieutenant commander. After the war ended, he began to coach at Denison and was eventually hired as head coach for The Ohio State University. During his tenure as head coach at OSU, Hayes was one of the first major college coaches to recruit African American athletes and increased recruitment of athletes from outside of the state of Ohio. Under his leadership, the Buckeyes were national champions five times.
Ohio Valley Bank, Bossard Memorial Library, and the Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau are sponsors of the Living History Nights events this year.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.