The scene: St. John Arena in Columbus, March 1994, just after the Ursuline boys basketball team defeated Lima Central Catholic for the Division III state championship.
My question, to an Ursuline female student in the front row: What do you think of that?
Her answer (in no uncertain terms): “We are fly!”
For the record, it was pretty fly when Larry Senvisky tipped in a missed shot with less than a second remaining to give the Irish a 55-53 win over unbeaten and top-ranked Central Catholic, which featured Mr. Basketball and future Marquette University standout Aaron Hutchens.
It was just one of many memorable events and quotes over the years.
For instance, Pete Mollica took the following approach to describe high school postseason play in Pennsylvania, in which teams can lose a district tournament game, yet still qualify for the state tournament: “The only thing more difficult than getting into the tournament, is getting out.”
Another colleague, John Bassetti, covered the Youngstown State football team during the Jim Tressel era. One year, the Penguins visited the Rubber Bowl to play the Akron Zips and John rode along with a photographer who had a reputation for, well, pushing the legal speed limit.
John returned to the office to file his story and was asked how things went. “I never knew Akron was so close.”
There have been many characters, far too many to mention them all. But they all made a lasting impression.
Bill Sullivan, who shared a dislike of fantasy sports, yet still wanted to have a Fantasy Olympic Ballroom Dancing League draft.
(Bob Fusco and Ernie Brown enjoyed daily discussions of fantasy leagues and statistics, forcing the creation of “Fantasy League-Free” zone in our corner of the newsroom.)
Mark was always five minutes away from filing his story, regardless of how much work he actually had to do.
Brian never said “no” to any question, whether he was being asked to take an assignment no one else wanted, or if his story was finished. It was either “yes” or “well.”
(As in, “Brian, is your story ready?” Welllll ...)
So many experiences — Super Bowl XXIX in Miami, the Cleveland Indians in the World Series in 1995 and 1997. Four trips to Arizona for Ohio State bowl games. Countless state championship contests.
Game 7 of the ’97 World Series was memorable for many reasons, especially in the pressbox, where I had three different ledes ready, depending on what happened next.
That was obliterated at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, when I had six ledes written during Ohio State’s overtime win over Miami (Fla.).
Then there was the coach of a struggling basketball team, who upon seeing me approach him after a game, began with this:
“What the heck are you doing at our game? Did everybody else cancel?”
So many places, so many faces.
What can I say? It’s been fly.
Rob Todor is leaving The Vindicator after 21 years to become Executive Editor of The Alliance Review.