Griffin, Pace lead Ohio State Alumni Club banquet
By MARK HAZELWOOD
SANDUSKY NEWS MAY 2016
As one of the most legendary players in the history of college football, Archie Griffin has been to hundreds of banquets and speaking functions.
But events like Thursday’s Ohio State Alumni Club of Erie County scholarship banquet have always stood out to the former Buckeye running back.
“Out of all the events I attend as a Buckeye ambassador, I think these are my favorite,” Griffin told the crowd of about 150 people at Plum Brook Country Club in Sandusky. “We’re honoring 15 students who are going to become Buckeyes with dreams and aspirations big enough to fill this room. And it just makes you good to feel a part of it.”
Griffin was the guest speaker for Thursday’s event, which also included an appearance and brief comments from Orlando Pace.
The 1994 Sandusky graduate and College Football Hall of Famer for Ohio State (1994-96) will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
Griffin, the only two-time Helsman Trophy winner (1974, 1975) in the 81-year history of the most famous award in college football, spoke on leadership to the 15 scholarship recipients ($1,000 each) from Edison, Huron, Perkins and Sandusky who will be headed to Columbus in the fall.
“You’ll face leadership challenges everywhere,” Griffin told the students. “One key point I’ve learned is the journey of a leader never ends. To this day I learn new and effective ways to lead.”
“The biggest mistake is believing a leader has everything figured out, or has all the answers,” he added. “Don’t make that mistake. Keep your mind open at all times. Leadership isn’t granted, it’s earned by your actions.”
Griffin also shared a story on leadership from his head coast at Ohio State – the legendary Woody Hayes. The two had dinner at Hayes’ favorite Columbus restaurant when he was trying to recruit Griffin to Ohio State, but the conversations that night left the young running back confused.
“My father got home that night and asked me how it went with Coach Hayes,” Griffin said, “I told him it was a nice dinner, but that I didn’t think he’s that interested in me playing football for him.” My dad asked why I thought that way.
“I told him all Coach Hayes talked about was my education and how important it was, he added. “He never once said anything about football.” My dad looked me dead in the eye and said, “don’t you think that is because he cared about you as a person and not just a football player?”
Griffin’s lesson in leadership from Hayes began that night, he said. “He taught us that when it comes to leadership, you cannot have a narrow focus,” Griffin said. “He emphasized that so strongly because he knew our football careers would be short – but our lives would be long.”
When Pace spoke to the assembled crowd, he wished the students a bright future at the school very dear to him.
“It’s an honor to be here with so many great Buckeye fans and alumni,” Pace said. “For you high school seniors, my three years at OSU were probably three of the best years of my life. I hope you guys experience the same things I did, and wish you the best of luck.”
Meanwhile, Griffin will always be proud of his football accomplishments – but is excited about doing much more than talking about his gridiron days.
“It’s just my way of doing what Coach Hayes talked about: paying it forward,” he said. “Doing things to help others. I started a scholarship endowment for Olympic athletes at Ohio State – that’s the kind of impact he had on my life, by talking about doing things to help others every day.
“It makes you feel like you should be doing something,” Griffin added. “So I was fortunate enough to have the kind of life that allows me to do those kind of things, and I look forward to it.”
2016-17 OSU Alumni Club of Erie County scholarship recipients (incoming students):
Edison: Ben Gastior; Keegan Hall; Clay Goodwin; Tyler Scott; Owen Moyer
Huron: Lisa Gies
Perkins: Abby Pitts; Abby Dresser; Jacob Caponi
2016-17 OSU Alumni Club of Erie County scholarship recipients (current students):
Edison: Zach Frederick (2014); Elise Gastier (2012) Brandi Heidl (2012)
Perkins: Varun Subashchandran (2013); Tyler Puckering (2014)
Reach Sports Editor Mark Hazelwood, follow him @SRHazelwood and facebook.com/Sandusky Register