Jim Tressel speaks, raises funds for cancer prevention and research

TORONTO – Jim Tressel, former Ohio State University and Youngstown State University coach, was guest speaker for the city high school’s Community Breakfast With Jim Tressel fundraiser held Tuesday in the school’s cafetorium.

Tressel, legendary coach for several college football teams, was there to raise funds for the school’s Relay for Life event for the Jefferson County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, and the Tressel Family Fund, an organization in association with Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Approximately 190 people showed up for the event, which included a community breakfast with the former coach, pictures and autographs, a 50/50 drawing and a speech by Tressel.

The coach was introduced by Maureen Taggart, school principal, and Eric Meek, head football coach for the Toronto Red Knights.

“Jim Tressel has won a lot of football games,” said Meek during his introduction. “He’s even a greater human being.”

Meek said Tressel lost both his parents to cancer and traveled to Toronto for the fundraiser on his own dime.

Tressel began by commending Meek and the community for planning and attending the event.

“This is what life is all about – being around people,” said Tressel, adding his foundation would use funds raised for education and research. “Cancer has touched everyone in this room. We’re going to (use funds raised) to come up with a cure.”

Tressel said he had fond memories of visits to the Ohio Valley looking for potential talent for the many teams he coached for.

“As I was riding here it gave me so many great memories,” he said. “I thought, ‘My goodness – this school looks a lot different than the last time I was here.'”

Tressel said his tenure at YSU made him a notable figure in the Ohio Valley.

“We lived in a magical time,” he said. “It’s just wonderful to be here. And this is a wonderful project.”

Tressel said he’d read advice from an author on four concepts to live by, including connecting with other people.

“You have to feel you are connected to something,” said Tressel. “It’s all about family. Our family is critical. You want to feel good about what you’re connected to.

“We all need a certain sense of autonomy,” continued Tressel. “We have to have things we are responsible for. We need to feel good about our role (in life).”

Tressel said it’s also important to take care of mind, body and spirit.

“We have to be rested,” he said, adding good nutrition, exercise and faith in God are important. “We have to feel right. It’s so important to feel good.”

Keeping the eyes on the correct prize also is crucial to living a fulfilling life, Tressel continued.

“Do you have the proper perspective?” he asked. “Do you understand the big picture? Do you understand there’s something bigger than yourself? It’s all about the team, the school, the community and the game. Life isn’t about winning every game.”

Tressel said he often was surprised by the reaction of some when the team he was coaching would lose.

“I would feel terrible (for them), because they would be more upset than I was,” he said. “That’s not having the proper perspective. We have to remember, no matter what we’re doing, there’s something bigger than ourselves. You have to keep perspective.”

Tressel ended by saying material fame and glory are nothing compared to “God’s hall of fame.”

(Miller can be contacted at mmiller@heraldstaronline.com.)