All About Richland

My Ride With Woody Hayes

11 Nov , 2020  

From 1812Blockhouse Publisher Thomas Palmer:

This Thursday evening at 7 PM a virtual theatre performance will be shared by The Ohio State University at Mansfield. Entitled “Separate Together,” the program will include a work by Mansfield Pulizer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, as well as a “living history” portrayal of long-time OSU Football Coach Woody Hayes.

Information about that presentation and how you can virtually attend can be accessed here.

Speaking of Coach Hayes, I am reminded of an evening many, many years ago when I had occasion to meet and spend time with the man himself. The episode began on a crisp late fall evening as I sat quietly on a bench waiting for a bus.

First, a bit of background. I was a freshman music major at OSU and a member of the OSU Marching Band; I marched sousaphone and was a member of the OSUMB’s infamous “K Row.” It had been an amazing year; while I had made the band, it was as an “alternate” (typical for a freshman). Yet two or three days before the first game for the band a senior bandsman had been disciplined and sidelined. A “march off” was held for alternates to select his replacement and I was chosen to march the very first time that year’s edition of the OSUMB.

So, on my first game as a member of the band, I found myself doing the full pregame including the ramp entrance and Script Ohio in front of 85,000 plus screaming fans. That year found the OSUMB preforming the first double Script Ohio – something I remember quite well – and the first Script Ohio performed at a World Series game.

Back to that bench. It was after dark, and I was waiting for the shuttle to West Campus on a wooden bench behind the former Ohio Union. After five or so minutes, another person sat down beside me on the bench to wait. He struck up a conversation.

It did take me a minute or two to realize that I was talking with OSU Football coach Woody Hayes. Once that awareness hit me, I concentrated on remaining calm. He inquired about my classes. Once I mentioned that I was a music major, he inquired as to whether I was in the marching band. When he found out that I was, he proceeded to tell me how much the team appreciated the band and what a difference it made to their performance each game.

I honestly do not remember other topics we discussed, but we talked for several minutes before the bus arrived, and then continued in conversation all the way to his exit — probably a half hour in total. I remember being shocked at how “down to earth” he was, and how genuinely he seemed interested in my experience at OSU.

A few days later, the OSUMB attended the fall Football Banquet. I beamed with pride when Coach Hayes recognized and greeted me.

It’s a small anecdote about a giant of Ohio State history. Still, to this day it makes me smile.

Go Bucks!


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