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OHSAA Circle of Champions Inductees Headline Host of Awards Ceremonies this Weekend

March 22, 2017
News Release – Ohio High School Athletic Association
Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D.
4080 Roselea Place, Columbus, OH 43214
Main: 614-267-2502 • Fax: 614-267-1677
For Immediate Release – March 21, 2017
Contact – Tim Stried, Director of Communications, [email protected]
OHSAA Circle of Champions Inductees Headline Host of Awards Ceremonies this Weekend
Other special awards recipients will also be recognized during boys basketball state tournament
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio High School Athletic Association will honor four former Ohio greats during the finals of the 2017 Boys State Basketball Tournament Saturday, March 25. Recognized during the Division III championship game that begins at 5:15 p.m. will be Tim Belcher, Brianne McLaughlin, Renee Powell and Ed Ratleff.
This is the 11th consecutive year the OHSAA has selected individuals who had prominent roles in the history of Ohio interscholastic athletics to be included in its Circle of Champions program.
The boys basketball state tournament is held at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus. For state tournament information, please visit: http://www.ohsaa.org/sports/boysbasketball/2017/2017-bbk-coverage
Bios for each of the inductees can be found below. More information and past recipients are posted at: http://www.ohsaa.org/AboutOHSAA/CircleOfChampions
Awards to Be Presented and Military Tribute Planned
In addition to the OHSAA Circle of Champions, many other awards will be presented during the state tournament, including the annual OHSAA Ethics and Integrity Award – going this year to ESPN football analyst and North Canton Hoover basketball coach Todd Blackledge – along with the Coaches Association Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award, the Naismith Meritorious Service Awards, the NFHS Outstanding Service Award and the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame Inductees. Please see below for bios.
The Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association will enshrine five new members into its Hall of Fame, including Scott Bardall (Sugarcreek Garaway), Dan Hegemier (New Knoxville), Joe Lynch (Strongsville), Bob Miller (Thomas Worthington) and John Joseph, inventor of the Shoot-A-Way.
Seven OHSAA member schools will be honored during halftime of the 2 p.m. game Friday as finalists for the Golden Megaphone Award, presented annually to the top student sections around the state. The seven finalist schools, which will all be present for the announcement of the winning school, include Bloomdale Elmwood, Dover, Kettering Fairmont, Minerva, Perrysburg, Wauseon and Zanesville Maysville.
A tribute to the military is planned for Friday night before and during the 8:30 p.m. Division I state semifinal.
2017 OHSAA Circle of Champions Inductees
Tim Belcher was an outstanding pitcher who graduated from Highland High School in Morrow County and then pitched at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Tim was drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Minnesota Twins, but he signed in the supplemental draft with the Yankees in 1984. He spent 14 years in the majors between 1987 and 2000, pitching for seven different teams. In 1988, Belcher was part of the Dodgers’ World Championship team, winning a World Series game, two National League Championship Series games and the Sporting News’ Rookie Pitcher-of-the-Year Award. In 1989, Tim led the National League with 10 complete games and major league baseball with eight shutouts. He won 146 games during his career and won 10 or more games in a season nine times. Tim has been with the Indians’ organization since his retirement, serving in a variety of roles including pitching coach for two years and his current title as special assistant to baseball operations. He and his wife have three children and reside in Sparta, Ohio.
Brianne McLaughlin is from Sheffield Village near Elyria and attended Elyria Catholic High School, where she participated in four sports. Also an ice hockey goaltender, Brianne played hockey for the Ohio Flames before playing collegiately between 2005 and 2009 at Robert Morris University, where she set an NCAA record for career saves. As a senior, she was named first team all-conference and to the league’s all-academic team. Since her collegiate career, Brianne was has played on two U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey teams and helped the team win a Silver Medal in the 2010 Vancouver Games and another Silver in 2014 in the Sochi Games. Since 2011, she has also been on U.S. teams that won two gold medals and a Silver in the World Championships and another that won the Women’s Four Nations Cup. McLaughlin currently owns and operates a goalie training facility northwest of Pittsburgh while spending the winter playing professionally for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League. She was selected to play in the league’s all-star game the past two years. She and her husband reside in Moon Township, Pa.
Renee Powell graduated from Canton Central Catholic High School in 1964 and attended Ohio University and Ohio State University, serving as captain of the women’s golf team at each institution. She became the second African-American ever to play on the LPGA Tour, joining four years after tennis star Althea Gibson. Renee played on tour from 1967 through 1980, persevering during a time of civil unrest in the country. She competed in 250 professional golf tournaments and won the 1973 Kelly Springfield Open in Australia. Just like her late father, Renee is an ambassador for diversity in the game of golf. She has been touting the sport for four decades, playing, teaching and promoting the game throughout the United States and the world. In recent years, she has been courting women veterans, young people, novices and seasoned golfers alike to play a game that continues to impact her life. She also serves as the head professional at Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, a course that her father built 70 years ago and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Because of her tremendous advocacy, dedication and life of teaching and giving, Renee has received numerous honors, including the PGA of America’s First Lady of Golf Award; the inaugural Rolex For the Love of the Game Award, and two honorary doctorates. In 2015, she became one of the first of seven women to be granted membership into the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, ending 260 years of male exclusivity.
Ed Ratleff was an outstanding basketball player who grew up in Columbus. In high school, he helped one of the state’s all-time best teams win back-to-back big-school state championships at East High School in 1968 and ’69 after the team was runner-up in 1967. The Tigers’ three-year record was 70-1, and Ed was first team all-state as a senior. Ed then attended Long Beach State University, where he was a two-time first team All-American under Head Coach Jerry Tarkanian. He still holds the school’s career scoring average record at 21.4 points per game and was twice the league player-of-the-year. In the summer of 1972, Ed was on the U.S. team that participated in the Olympic Games in Munich. The sixth pick in the 1973 NBA Draft by Houston, Ratleff played five seasons for the Rockets before a back injury ended his career. The Rockets’ best season during that span was 1977 when they reached the Eastern Conference finals. Ed is a member of the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame. He is in business in Long Beach, Calif., and resides in Cypress, Calif.
Past honorees in the OHSAA Circle of Champions program have been: 2007-Todd Blackledge; Jay Burson; Dean Chance (since deceased); Archie Griffin; Bill Hosket; Clark Kellogg; Dante Lavelli (since deceased); Cindy Noble Hauserman, and Katie Smith; 2008-Galen Cisco; Jim Lachey; Susan Nash Sugar, and Bill Willis (posthumously); 2009-Robin Freeman (since deceased); LeBron James; Larry Siegfried (since deceased); Dick Schafrath, and Mary Wineberg; 2010-Howard “Hopalong” Cassady; Jerry Lucas; Al Oliver; Jesse Owens (posthumously), and Tony Trabert; 2011-Harrison Dillard; Wayne Embry; John Havlicek; Jim Houston; Madeline Manning Mims, and Phil Niekro; 2012-Barry Clemens; Bob Hoying; LaVonna Martin-Floreal; Butch Reynolds; Dick Snyder, and Gene Tenace; 2013-Earle Bruce; Rex Kern; Michael Redd; Chris Spielman, and Paul Warfield; 2014-Jessica Davenport; Abby Johnston; Jim Paxson, and John Paxson; 2015-Lisa Cline; Bob Golic; Randy Gradishar; Lou Holtz; Troy Smith, and Chris “Beanie” Wells; and 2016-Tom Cousineau, Herb Williams and Dave Wottle.
Other awards that will be presented during this year’s boys state tournament are as follows:
The 2017 OHSAA Ethics and Integrity Award recipient: Todd Blackledge, who grew up in North Canton, Ohio, and has been a college football national television analyst since 1994 and has been with ESPN since 2006. He also completed his third season as head boys basketball coach at his alma mater, North Canton Hoover High School. Todd graduated in 1979 from Hoover, where he was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. He then attended Penn State University, where he quarterbacked the Nittany Lions to the 1982 national championship. Blackledge was the 1982 Davey O’Brien Award winner as college football’s top quarterback. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Penn State in 1983 and was a first team Academic All-American. The seventh overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft by Kansas City, Todd played five seasons with the Chiefs and two with the Steelers. His honors have included the 2008 recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, recognizing former student-athletes who excelled both in their collegiate and professional careers, and he was the 2009 recipient of Penn State’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Todd and his wife have four sons.
The OHSAA Naismith Awards, presented to two people for their meritorious service to the sport of basketball or interscholastic athletics: Rocco Nero, who began his career in education in 1977, serving as a teacher, coach and principal before becoming a superintendent in 2000. He served in the latter position with the Bristol Local Schools in Bristolville from 2000 to 2004; with the Lowellville Local Schools from 2004 to 2014, and has been superintendent of the Southington Local Schools since 2014. A member of the OHSAA’s Northeast District Athletic Board since 2003, he was also a member of the OHSAA Board of Directors between 2008 and 2010, serving as Board vice president during the 2009-10 school year. Nero is a graduate of Lowellville High School and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Youngstown State. He and his wife have two daughters and a son. Steve Williman, who retired as a teacher and the boys basketball coach at Liberty-Benton High School near Findlay following the 2013-14 school year. In 28 seasons as the head coach at Liberty-Benton, he compiled a record of 516-133 that included 16 conference championships, fifteen 20-win seasons, a Division IV state championship in 1995 and a Division III state runner-up in 2007. His career record of 551-208 in 33 total seasons included stops at Old Fort and Galion. Steve was inducted into the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame last spring and is also a past recipient of the state coaches association’s Bob Arnzen and Paul Walker awards. A graduate of Old Fort High School, Steve holds degrees from Owens Community College and Findlay University. He and his wife have two daughters.
The OHSAA Coaches Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award: Steve Franks, who has been the head coach at Tuscarawas Valley High School in Zoarville for the past 19 years. His teams have won three sectional championships, one district title and were regional runners-up. He also serves as the Trojans’ athletic administrator and boys golf coach. Prior to his time at Tusky Valley, he was an assistant basketball coach for four years at Dover High School.
Recognition of special Ohio Athletic Trainers Association award winners: Trainer-of-the-Year Kate Weale, who has been a certified athletic trainer with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus since November 2011. After serving as the athletic trainer at London High School for nearly four years, Kate has served as the athletic trainer for Grandview Heights High School since July 2015. State Athletics Trainers Hall of Fame inductee: Paul Miller, who works for Ohio Health and has been with the Gahanna-Jefferson Local Schools since 1986. He currently serves as assistant athletic trainer after previously serving 27 years as the head athletic trainer and a teacher at Gahanna Lincoln High School.
A National Federation of State High School Associations Outstanding Service Award in Ohio: Ron Knight, who served for 35 years at his alma mater, Bloomfield High School in the Warren area, as a teacher, coach, athletic administrator, principal and administrative assistant. He served on the OHSAA Board of Directors for two terms and was a member of the OHSAA’s Northeast District Athletic Board for 19 years. He has also had an illustrious career in officiating. Ron is in his 53rd year as a registered OHSAA contest official in five sports. He has officiated at every level of the OHSAA tournaments during his career and still officiates over 250 contests per year. Ron also is a certified OHSAA officials’ contest assigner and has served as a local officials association rules interpreter. He also has been a long-time officials’ trainer and mentor. Among his numerous awards have included induction into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame and the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame.
Inductees into the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Hall of Fame: Bruce Hefflinger, who has worked at The Crescent-News in Defiance for more than 35 years, including the last 25 as sports editor; Marc Pendleton, who has been covering high school sports in the Dayton area since 1977 and has been with the Dayton Daily News since 1989, and Mark Znidar, who has been with the Columbus Dispatch since 1985 and has covered high school sports along with the Bengals, Indians, Clippers, Ohio State men's basketball, Ohio State football and other Ohio colleges.

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