Where does a class that graduated from the same high school as the most iconic football coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes have a reunion?
Ohio Stadium, The Horseshoe, of course.
The Newcomerstown High School Class of 1966 recently had a reunion at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Stadium, stirring memories of Woody Hayes, who also graduated from Newcomerstown High School.
"Our class meets every other month for a luncheon and we usually stay around this area (Newcomerstown)," Marlene Ross, a member of the class said. "We have several who live over in the Columbus area who come back this way every time so when the idea of a tour of The Shoe came up, it was a no brainer. Plus one of our classmates, Dennis Parks, is a 20-year Redcoat Tour Guide so we knew we would get a good tour."
The tour was set up by Jim Moner, another classmate, who said that when they started talking about meeting in Columbus, the question of what to do while in the area came up.
"Since many of our classmates live in the Columbus area sometimes we have a meeting in the Columbus area," Moner said. "At our August lunch we decided to have our October lunch in Columbus. We were talking about what else we could do together while in Columbus and we decided to take a tour of Ohio Stadium.
"One of our classmates, Dennis Parks, has been a Red Coat Usher at Ohio Stadium for 20 years. I made reservations for our tour on Ohio State’s website. I requested Dennis Parks as our tour guide. The tour was fabulous. We were on the field, in the press box, the band room, Ohio State University loge boxes, and many other areas."
Ross said, "There were 19 of us on our tour, including some spouses and three guests. We met at for our tour, which was great, but a lot of walking! We were down under the stadium where the food and beverages are and there was a lot of activity going on getting ready for that week’s game. We got to see where the band practices and where they enter the field. We weren't allowed in the locker room as it was already set up for the players but we got to go through the tunnel where the team goes out on the field. We all got our pictures taken in the middle of the BIG O in the middle of the field. We were then taken to some of the VIP areas, the reporter area and scouting area. We got to go in the room where the helmet chairs are and even got to sit in them for pictures. All these rooms have names but I don't remember what they were."
Moner said the information that Dennis Parks knew about Ohio Stadium was "truly amazing."
"During the tour Dennis was able to impart to us numerous little known facts about the Ohio Stadium, former players, and coaches many who he knew personally," Moner said. "His knowledge about the place was truly amazing. One impressive fact was that the cost of building the stadium in 1922 was approximately $1.5 million. A remodeling project in the 1990’s cost over $200 million. During that remodeling the field was lowered 15 feet which put the field below the level of the Olentangy River. There is huge bathtub like structure underneath the field and huge pumping system which keeps the field from fooding.
"Of course our favorite coach was Woody Hayes and most of us wore shirts with Woody’s name on them declaring that Newcomerstown was his home town. The tour brought back to me many personal memories. One time a few of us Trojans football players attended a Spring Red White game with our coach, Cliff Wilson, who had been a player on one of Woody’s national champion teams. We stood in the middle of Ohio Stadium draped in Ohio State football parkas talking, with Woody. Another time I carried my teenage handicapped son Corey on my shoulder to our seats at the top of the bleacher section of the stadium. Another time Corey and I watched Ohio State beat that team up North.
"During my pharmaceutical career several years ago, I was a Medical Science Liaison with Teva Neuroscience and had arranged some rather large medical education grants to Ohio State’s Neurology Department’s Multiple Sclerosis Center. The university honored me by inviting myself and eight guests to enjoy a football game in the Ohio State loge box on the 50 yard line. When I got off the elevator Dennis was standing there and ask me how on earth I got into that loge. I didn’t tell him until the other day. It was a rare honor and Dennis said in his 20 years as a Red Coat as far as he knew only two from the Newcomerstown area had been invited to that loge, myself and Steve Russell. One of my guests that day was Kottil Rammohan, MD, Director of the Ohio State MS Center and former personal physician to Woody Hayes, who joked that before that day he had not been able to get into that loge. I would highly recommend the tour of Ohio Stadium and if you take the tour definitely request that Dennis Parks be your tour guide."
Following the tour of Ohio Stadium, classmates, spouses and friends continued their time together with a meal at Champs, a restaurant in the university area.