Friend favors OHSAA tweak

By Greg Gulas


When it comes to comeptitive balance for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, board member Howard “Howdy” Friend does not want to see parochial schools separated from public schools.

“I am not in favor of separate tournaments as I feel that it would create additional problems,” Friend said at Monday’s gathering of the Curbstone Coaches.

A 2011 referendum scrutinized enrollment policies, tournament success, free and reduced lunch counts, school boundaries, tuition and open enrollment.

“Last year, a competitive balance referendum to equal the playing field between private, public and parochial schools failed,” Friend said. “Currently, there is a group of administrators in Wayne County trying to put together another referendum which would divide the private and public schools into separate tournaments.

“I was not on the committee that developed the competitive balance plan, bit I did support it,” said Friend who retired as Sebring’s superintendent in July.

“I would, however, have tweaked it in that a multiplier should be used with no private schools in the bottom two divisions in football, and the bottom division in basketball.”

Friend, who has been a coach and school administrator for five decades, noted that he had some very good role models, starting at home with his father (also nicknamed Howdy).

“My father and grandfather, Dave Williams, were very instrumental in helping me pave my path in academics and athletics,” Friend said. “Both were athletes who later became coaches and administrators and were always very supportive of both their children and the students that they served.

“My uncle Sonny was the former head football coach at South High and when you add him to the mix, they combine for over 100 years of service to area education and athletics,” Friend said.

A Poland native, Friend is a 1973 graduate of Youngstown State University who started his teaching and coaching career at Sebring where he served as an assistant boys basketball coach under Rick Brook.

He later moved over to the United and Lisbon school systems before becoming Sebring’s superintendent in 1999.

During his 13 years on Brook’s staff, the Trojans captured 11 Tri-County League championships while finishing second twice.

They won 11 sectional titles, four district championships, were regional runners-up and the architects of a 76-game home winstreak.

“Being a small school, Sebring was very unique,” Friend said. “Everyone knew everybody and our success in basketball was no accident.

“The gym was never locked on weekends and the kids would play all weekend long,” Friend said.

“We never had a problem.”

He’s been a member of the OHSAA Northeast District Board for 10 years.

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