Veteran coach discusses wild year
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — For the past 22 seasons, Tom Pavlansky has served as head football coach of the Lakeview Bulldogs, where he has guided the Bulldogs to three league titles and seven playoff appearances (2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2017).
The past four years, he has served on the board of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and most recently served as president with his year-long term ending last month.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center, Pavlansky told the group that while his tenure as president had its challenges, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a very fulfilling term serving as head of the state’s top high school coaching group.
“On our website, you’ll find that our mission is to provide a positive student-centered environment in which student-athletes will participate in organized team sports, which emphasize a commitment to excellence in the classroom as well as the athletes’ particular sport,” he said. “We want to promote opportunities for student-athletes to learn lifelong lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, ethical behavior, perseverance, commitment, loyalty, self-discipline, accomplishment, cooperation, healthy living, responsibility and leadership skills.
“It’s a one-year term but a four-year commitment. First, you serve as second vice-president, then first vice-president, president and now my position as past president.”
Founded in 1934, the organization has provided over $1.2 million for scholarships to student-athletes competing in sanctioned fall, winter and spring sports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all sports since last March, especially football.
“We broke it down into what practice was going to look like and what the game is going to look like, how it was going to look different or will look different from last year in terms of coming into practice in staggered groups so that we can do health checks on them,” Pavlansky said. “At practice, we wanted to keep them in as many pods as possible and limit the amount of interaction, whenever possible, between the kids. One of the ways we did that was we broke practice down into sessions nine minutes or less. You’d have a break so players could get their water, get separated and get away from each other, use hand sanitizer or whatever it may be.
“We put up parameters and procedures to hopefully make football as safe as possible.”
With football officially over as of Sunday evening, he called the season, albeit modified, an overall success.
“We played state title games this past weekend, so I think the coaches around the state have done an unbelievable job,” Pavlansky said. “I am really proud of our membership, our kids as well as the parents who allowed their kids the chance to play the best game in the world.
“As long as the pandemic is here, it’s probably safe to say what protocols were this past fall, we’re probably going to have to get used to those and that is just my opinion. They’re not going away any time soon, so some of those changes and suggestions are going to be evaluated.
“The document that we put together in the summer, the proposal that we made was a collective deal. It’s a work in progress where we’re working with the OHSAA, our health departments, schools and membership so it’s a collaborative effort. Only time will tell what is going to happen next fall.”
With John F. Kennedy and Springfield playing for a state title this past weekend in their respective divisions, Pavlansky said it just confirms the high level of play by area teams.
“I think it just reaffirms that the Mahoning Valley, which is Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties, is a football rich area,” he said. “Again, football is important to us, we have great kids, unbelievable coaches and communities that want to support their kids playing the best game in the world.
“It speaks volumes, and congratulations to both the Eagles and Tigers, and the other local teams that advanced throughout the playoffs.”
Pavlansky said his association is the finest group with which he has ever been associated.
“The OHSFCA supports all student-athletes,” he said. “We want to continue to work toward creating a great environment where there is healthy competition and opportunities for kids to learn about themselves.
“We promote the student-athlete and are willing to work with anyone who has the same thoughts and common interest that we do in terms of helping them.
“The association is the best team that I have ever been a part of. There’s 16 directors and an executive board and with all the support staff and volunteers, it’s just an unbelievable group of really good people, people you want fighting for your kids and the betterment of the game.”
Next Monday, Rick Love, YSU associate director of athletics for marketing, will serve as guest speaker.