Tressels, Watsons donate $1M for indoor field

YSU’s Centennial Campaign has now reached the
$32 million mark.



YOUNGSTOWN — Former Youngstown State University head football coach Jim Tressel hasn’t forgotten his good years here.

Now the head coach at Ohio State University, Tressel and his wife, Ellen, and her parents, Frank and Norma Watson, came back to campus Monday to present the university with $1 million to help build an indoor athletic practice field.

The money becomes part of YSU’s $43 million Centennial Capital Campaign, which now stands at $32 million.

Tressel spent 15 years as head coach at YSU, and his wife is a 1975 YSU graduate.

Frank Watson, former president of Youngstown Welding and Engineering Co., is a 1949 graduate of Youngstown College, a former member of the YSU Board of Trustees and a founding and current member of the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees.

It was Watson who led the campaign to raise $16 million to build Stambaugh Stadium.

Giving back

“This will always be home. YSU will always hold a special place in my heart,” Tressel said, adding, “We can’t pay back all that YSU has meant to us, but maybe we can pay it forward.”

Youngstown State has been good to them, Watson said, “and we can now give a little bit back.”

“We are appreciative to the Watsons and Tressels for their continued generosity and support of Youngstown State University and its students,” said Dr. David C. Sweet, university president.

The indoor facility will cost between $3 million and $4 million. It’s one of the targeted items on the Centennial Campaign list of campus improvements as the university prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2008.

No specific location or timetable has been developed for the facility, which will be used primarily by intercollegiate athletic teams, particularly the baseball, football, women’s soccer and softball and men’s and women’s track teams.

YSU teams are at a distinct competitive disadvantage because of Youngstown’s northern climate, which limits outdoor practice time, Sweet said.

“This complex is critical for the growth of our football program as we continue to raise our level of competitiveness and ability to recruit successful student-athletes,” said Ron Strollo, executive director of intercollegiate athletics.

The facility will be called the WATTS (Watson And Tressel Training Site) Center. A location and construction timetable have not been determined.

Sweet said the Watsons and Tressels teamed up before with a combined $250,000 gift to the campaign to build the $12 million Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center, which opened in 2005.


Ellen Tressel is a former vice president of trading for Butler Wick and Co.

Watson received the YSU Distinguished Citizen Award and an honorary doctoral degree from the university in 2003.

Norma Watson has served as a volunteer for many area organizations, including the Federated Women’s Club, Mahoning County Residential Financial Cancer Campaign, Fellows Riverside Gardens and the Youngstown Playhouse.

The Watsons received YSU’s Friend of the University award, YSU’s highest honor, this year.

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