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A Thank You for how much Saint Ignatius' Coaches and Student Athletes have touched and blessed my life

By Eddie Dwyer, 12/04/16, 10:45PM EST


By Mr. Eddie Dwyer, December 2016

Cleveland, Ohio - As I walked out of Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University late Friday night, I realized once again how blessed I have been these past nine years to be associated with the Coaches, the Student Athletes and their families at Saint Ignatius High School.

The class, character and genuine love and respect Coach Chuck Kyle's players and his coaching staff have for one another is immeasurable, and greater than any records or statistics.

This old-timer's now nearly 50-year love affair with area High School Athletics started when I was growing up in the Saint Ignatius of Antioch Parish neighborhood on West 103rd Street and spending my weekends as a young boy watching all of the great high school teams and athletes of the 1950s and '60s at storied West Tech Field. That West 103rd Street home fell victim to the construction of I-90 when I was 16 and West Tech Field is now just a wonderful memory that sits under what became The West Tech Lofts apartment complex.

As a wide-eyed little boy watching games under the Friday Night Lights of West Tech Field and Charity Games in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, my love and appreciation for sports was honed by my late father Jim. A heck of a baseball player, my dad passed on a professional career and instead married my late mom, Marie. My dad and mom raised six children. No one could have asked for greater parents.

With my dad helping hone my visualization skills as we listened to many, many sporting events over the radio, skills that are invaluable to a reporter who enjoys writing over tweeting, I was then blessed at the ripe age of 19 to receive an offer to work under the late, great Hall of Fame Sports Editor Mr. Hal Lebovitz at The Plain Dealer, a highly respected and thriving newspaper at that time.

As a beautiful lyric from an old song go, "But that was yesterday, many years ago."

After 37 years at The Plain Dealer I headed into a short-lived retirement that eventually led me to one of the greatest paths I ever took in my career, or my life for that matter, working for the Athletics Department at Saint Ignatius High School.

From Saint Ignatius of Antioch, to Cathedral Latin School, to Cleveland State University's branch at Lakewood High School (yes a Lakewood branch), to The Plain Dealer and Cleveland's renowned Jesuit Preparatory School.

Now those are truly five wonderful Time Passages.

It is with a heavy heart right now that I am going to say I have to step away from my work load at Saint Ignatius and take some time to get myself back in order physically and devote more time to my family, especially my wonderful grandkids.

No, I am not totally closing the book on my lifelong passion. Who knows, maybe after some time off someone might find my seasoned skills as a stringer attractive.

In closing (I'm Irish and have the gift of gab), I would like to THANK Saint Ignatius Athletics Director Mr. Rory Fitzpatrick '88 and former Wildcats Associate Athletic Director Mr. Sean O'Toole '87 (now the AD at Gilmour Academy), who hired me in the early summer of 2008.

I can't say Thank You enough to all of the wonderful coaches I have had the privilege to work with over the past nine years, especially Hall of Fame Football and Track Coach Mr. Chuck Kyle '69, who took me along on his incredible gridiron run both at The Plain Dealer and Saint Ignatius.

Heartfelt thanks also go out to Veteran Offensive Coordinator for Football Mr. Nick Restifo (we're both Latin Lions); Wildcats nationally acclaimed Head Soccer Coach Mr. Mike McLaughlin '85 (Class Personified!); Mr. Pat O'Rourke '90, who is not only one of the finest hockey coaches in the nation, but one of the greatest human beings God ever put on this earth; highly successful Head Baseball Coach Mr. Brad Ganor (now also the 'Cats' Associate/Assistant AD); Coach O'Toole; Wildcats celebrated Head Basketball and Golf Coach Mr. Brian Becker '77; Head Cross Country Coach Dr. Mike Gallagher '71, who brought endless smiles to this Irish mug every Sunday night; Head Wrestling Coach Mr. Mark Sullivan, who has led the Wildcats' Men of the Mats back to area and state prominence; Head Rugby Coach Mr. Dan Arbeznik '00 and former Lacrosse Head Coach Mr. Patrick McManamon '96, who taught me to love their sports; Head Volleyball Coach Casey Marcelo, who wears his heart on his sleeve; Coaches Mr. John Kastanis and Mr. Jim Viets of the Alley Cats; standout Assistant Coach Connor Walters '09 of the Crew Cats; Head Swimming Coach Mr. Mike Lehto, and Wildcats Tennis Coaches Mr. Jon Barker '87 and Cindy Reagan, whose devotion consistently kept their team in the corner's news.

If I may, a huge THANK YOU to Athletics Department Administrative Assistant Jennifer Fight; Varsity Football Team Chaplain and Math Counselor Father Jack Murphy; former Saint Ignatius Principal and current member of The Theology Department, Mr. Pete Corrigan '69'; Head Athletics Trainer Mr. Hank Gaughan and his wonderful Student Managers; former Wildcats outstanding Athletics Director, Saint Ignatius Hall of Famer Mr. Dale Gabor '66, and the gifted students, past and present, of the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network for their kindness and respect.

And, the tears are coming again as I write this, there are not enough THANKS in the world to cover what you, the Student Athletes, have meant and always will mean to me.

Your beyond your years maturity, kindness and respect kept this old-timer's strength up and I can't say enough for what you did for me these past nine years. To you and your families, again THANK YOU for the Privilege and Pleasure of being associated with you.

May God Bless You Always, Mr. Eddie Dwyer