By Greg Gulas
The regional high school cross country championships are scheduled at Boardman on Saturday and the former manager, Jim Fox, is happiest when everything is perfectly aligned for the competition.
Because of the many volunteers and staff members who have helped over the years to ensure its overall success, it’s pretty safe to assume that Fox was always a very happy director.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting at the Blue Wolf Banquet Center, the driving force behind the success of the Spartan Invitational has turned over his tournament duties to former Spartans track and field coach, Dave Pavlansky.
The passing of the baton, according to Fox, could not be handed to a more capable, caring person than Pavlansky.
“I believe that the tournament manager needs to be someone in the school system for a variety of reasons,” said Fox. “First, that person needs to be aware of the school calendar and what events are taking place while custodial and maintenance staff must be kept in the mix. An excellent working relationship with faculty and staff is paramount,” Fox said.
“I’ve been retired 10 years now and many changes have taken place during that time. Someone like Dave has the ability to keep everyone on the same page.
“He’s also someone who will work hand-in-hand with the athletic director, media and officials groups. He’s a tireless worker who will be dedicated to the position,” said Fox.
A native of Penn Hills, Pa., and a 1966 graduate of Mount Union College, Fox spent five decades in education, including 30 years at Boardman High.
During his tenure as athletic director, he served as meet manager for the Spartan Invitational from 1989-2009, and was meet manager of many OHSAA tournament events.
Watching the invitational grow to one of the largest and best in the state over the years is what made Fox most proud.
“From the 1960s to the 1980s it was known as the Boardman Invitational and it wasn’t until assistant cross country-track and field coach, Bruce Breunig, moved it to the high school that it took off.
“Last year under the direction of Denise Gorski, the event for boys and girls programs in both middle school and the high school attracted the most schools ever, but was down in number of participants.
“In 2010, however, over 5,200 athletes took part and to me those are just amazing numbers,” Fox said.