Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Team Pays Tribute to Coach with Memorial Stone
October 31, 2013 by Josh Echt | No Comments

In the 1940s, U.S. President Harry S. Truman used a memorable catchphrase for accountability during his term: "The Buck Stops Here."At Ledgemont Schools, it's a…

In the 1940s, U.S. President Harry S. Truman used a memorable catchphrase for accountability during his term: “The Buck Stops Here.”

At Ledgemont Schools, it’s a different story, with the same phrase of accountability, honesty and loyalty: The Bill stops here.

Former Ledgemont Middle School football coach Bill Morgan, that is.

Morgan, who passed away this spring at the age of 72, received honors in the form of a memorial stone dedicated by the Ledgemont High School football team, many of whom had Morgan mentor them as they grew from little Redskins to big Redskins.

The dedication, held Oct. 24 in the Ledgemont Elementary School cafeteria, was a fitting tribute to a man held in high regard in the Ledgemont community, which consists of students from Montville and Thompson townships.

The stone, engraved with the words “In Memory of Coach Bill Morgan, Middle School Football 30 Years,” will be placed at the top of the pathway leading into the football stadium on Burrows Road.

At the event — which also included a team dinner with other football players — Morgan’s wife and several family members attended.

“I remember Coach Morgan always being at every practice. Coach Morgan would drive his minivan up to the field,” Ledgemont senior Matthew Hawkins said, adding Morgan coached the middle-schoolers for 30 years. “He came without fail.”

Hawkins said he recently read an article by author Tom Fakehany, “Does Competitive Sports Build Character.” He said Fakehany described coaches and their roles with youth.

“They are, first and foremost, teachers who measure their success not in victories or records but in their ability to help youngsters reach their highest potential,” he said. “Sure, they teach techniques and strategies, but by their words and actions, they also teach vital life skills and virtues like integrity, fairness, perseverance, courage, self-discipline and all the graces associated with good sportsmanship.”

The senior said Morgan exemplified those virtues and added he would miss his coach.

His mother, Karen Hawkins, said she was proud of her son for helping the tribute come together for Morgan.

“When Matthew came home after weed-whacking the football stadium this fall and stated to us that he did not see a stone for Coach Morgan in the memorial garden, he asked why,” she said. “With not being able to get an answer as to why, he decided that something needed to be done to have his coach recognized.”

Lorain to Ledgemont

As the crow flies, it is a long 75.9 miles from Lorain Clearview High School to the grassy fields of Ledgemont Middle School.

But the friendship between Morgan and another Ledgemont coach, Dick Kane, is much closer.

Kane graduated from Lorain Clearview in 1960, a year after Morgan, on the other side of Greater Cleveland, graduated from Chardon High School in 1959, where he played football all four years. Kane moved to the Ledgemont district in 1969.

Kane first met Morgan when he saw Morgan’s son, Matthew, paint a flagpole on Thompson’s square as a Webelos Cub Scout. The second time he met Morgan, he helped Morgan coach pee-wee football.

In the early 1980s, Bill Morgan was laid off due to a plant closure. His son, Matthew, was on the middle school team by then, headed by then-coach Randy O’Dell.

“Bill called me up and invited me to enjoy the pleasure of being on the junior high school football squad,” Kane said. “So I joined.”

Kane and Bill Morgan took over the middle school program and ran it from 1982 or so up through 2011. He served as an assistant in 1982 before becoming a co-head football coach with Kane a year later.

“Bill was laid back. He liked to be there and loved high school events,” Kane said. “If it involved kids, he was part of it.”

As a result of being junior-high coaches, the duo was able to attend high school games and watch the Redskins play, including Matthew Morgan, a 1988 graduate.

“When Matt (Morgan) became a freshman, we followed the varsity teams more,” Kane said.

Bill Morgan retired from work halfway through the last decade, but coached up through 2011. He retired from Worthington Precision Metals in 2006, according to the Cleveland.com online obituary.

In 2008, he was a Geauga County Touchdown Club Honorary Member Selection, according to a 2008 Geauga County Touchdown Club program. Morgan played as as a defensive end and fullback at Chardon all four years, according to the program.

He also coached Little League in Montville Township for 10 years and also served as the league’s director.

Kane, a past Geauga County Touchdown Club vice-president, retired from work in 2001 or 2002 and continued coaching for some years afterwards.

“He really liked the kids,” Kane said. “It was a good way to re-live the things he did when he was in high school. Those were good times, to re-live our youth by coaching and by helping others.”

Bill Morgan’s wife, Mary Lou, said she would have been married 50 years to her husband in June 2013. She said her husband also coached three years of varsity baseball in addition to football.

“He loved coaching many sports and playing them. But, to the kids, he also stressed the importance of education to them even more so than their success in sports.”

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