Tuesday, March 1, 2011
By Greg Gulas
Having celebrated his 65th birthday on Sunday, Jim Ferraro went down memory lane with the Curbstone Coaches during their Monday luncheon meeting.
Ferraro called himself the luckiest athlete to have been able to play for coaches that taught him beyond just the games.
“I got an education from the coaches that I played for and the players with whom I played,” he said.
“From my Little League days under the leadership of Paul McNally, to my Pony League days under Tony Walley to my Class B years under Chuck Priley, all cared enough to invest the time necessary to make you feel like you were special.
“They molded you into players that respected the game while teaching you about life in the process,” said Ferraro, the executive director of the WRTA.
An all-around athlete who called his basketball days at Hayes Junior High some of the most special, he played at the Rayen School under the tutelage of former YSU assistant football coach Ralph Robinette.
“I remember trying out for the Tigers and telling Coach Robinette that I wanted to play quarterback,” Ferraro said. “Being small in stature, he quickly had other plans for me and shifted me to fullback and then later to guard.
“He was an excellent coach, however, and everyone respected his opinion as the man in charge,” he said.
Ferraro also played baseball at YSU for the Dom Rosselli from 1965-68.
He called his former coach one of the best ever on any level.
“With over 1,100 combined wins in both basketball and baseball his record speaks for itself,” Ferraro said. “We didn’t play many games back then due to the weather, but coach made sure that we got the most out of the games that we did play.”
Ferraro also played fast-pitch softball for several years and recalled playing against the famed Clearwater Bombers as one of his greatest experiences.
“I also loved slow-pitch and while fielding for me was easy, hitting was my biggest challenge after playing fast-pitch. I really received an education,” Ferraro said.
A football official for almost 30 years and a high school fast-pitch umpire for the last 14, Ferraro has worked two state finals in the latter sport, working the first perfect game in a state championship.
“I owe a lot to athletics. If it wasn’t for athletics, I would not have enjoyed many of the life and sports experiences that I have enjoyed over the years,” he said.
Next week, Bob Laricca, former basketball coach at Warren Western Reserve and Warren Harding High and current director of basketball operations at the Niles Wellness Center, will serve as guest speaker.