By Greg Gulas
The Curbstone Coaches organization kicked off its 56th luncheon season Monday with a familiar face addressing the group and a brand new location playing host to its membership.
YSU athletic director Ron Strollo kicked off the weekly luncheon series by presenting his State of YSU Athletics address at Luciano’s Banquet Center in Austintown.
The organization in turn renewed its pledge to Strollo by presenting him with a $2,000 check as its continued sponsorship for an endowed scholarship.
“We currently have over 200 endowments and to date have raised over $5.5 million for endowed athletic scholarships at YSU. The Curbstone Coaches remain a big part of that success and we continue to grow because of their generosity,” Strollo said. “Today’s donation, coupled with other commitments that they have made over the years to both YSU and specifically our athletics department, ensures that we remain one of the frontrunners in endowed scholarships.”
YSU’s football team is 2-0 and heading to East Lansing, Mich., Saturday for a date with former YSU assistant coach Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans. The women’s soccer team christened its new home, Farmers National Bank Field, this past Aug. 30 when it played host to Toledo, a perennial top 40-ranked team in the Division I ranks.
With 18 men’s and women’s sports currently offered by the school, Strollo said facilities remain a big issue for recruits during their college selection process, an area of which he is most pleased that they have been able to close the recruiting gap.
“Three years ago the WATTS training facility opened, which not only gave intercollegiate athletics a recruiting and training edge but also afforded current students and local high schools an opportunity to enjoy a cutting-edge indoor workout facility,” he added. “Farmers National Bank Field has been a tremendous addition for our women’s soccer program while just south of the field we can now house our women’s softball team as part of the overall complex.”
The field includes an all-weather synthetic turf field, an eight-lane competitive track and Musco Sports lighting, which is a top-of-the-line athletic lighting system.
The lights, three times brighter than those on Beede Field, will also play host to the Ursuline High boys and girls soccer teams.
While the volleyball team continues to improve and YSU’s men’s cross country team has been one of the Horizon League’s best over the years, it’s the women’s cross country team that is making waves, Strollo said.
“Our women’s cross country team is ranked in the Great Lakes Region top-15 for the first time ever and has received an invitation to compete in Notre Dame’s elite Blue Race,” he said. “We’ve always participated in their Gold Race so to finally be a part of their Blue Race is really something special. You now find yourself going up against teams like the University of Oregon and Texas so your program is considered on the upswing in order to receive that invitation.”
The basketball teams will have a new scoreboard, which has been used during home volleyball matches.
“Our new overhead scoreboard in Beeghly Center was externally funded and includes four videoboards. We kept several features from our old scoreboard but the upgrade is something that all fans will surely enjoy,” Strollo stated. “The scoreboard will also help us generate much needed dollars in terms of advertising and commercial sponsorships.”