BEAVER TOWNSHIP — YSU President Jim Tressel has never shied away when asked to offer his opinion on a given topic. He’s also been one of the very first to commend those who have given that little bit extra or gone the extra mile to get the job done.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center, Tressel was engaging about the COVID pandemic, transfer portal and current student-athletes’ NIL (name, image and likeness) opportunities.
“Regarding the COVID pandemic, the one thing that I’ve noticed now and looking back over the past two years is that it has really forced us to work together,” Tressel said. “So much had to be done to adjust to going remote, and all of sudden our IT department was like the most important people in the world. Folks at our institute of teaching and learning had to help construct hybrid classes, online classes; our faculty to understand that some days there’s going to be someone missing and seeing how we can make up the work so I’ve really noticed is it has really created a lot of working together.
“In the athletic department, I mean the way they had to restructure practices, work in small pods and work farther apart. Our folks down in the training room with all the testing and all the COVID protocols, I don’t think anyone in America tested more for COVID than student-athletes. It was a three-times-a-week-type thing so it hasn’t been fun, but it’s been fun to watch how people rise to the occasion.
“I’ve been awfully impressed with Ron [Strollo] and Tory Lindley, who is now in charge of all the medical and has brought great expertise. All the trainers and coaches have done a great job. Coach [Doug] Phillips was learning to know his team over Zoom and I can’t imagine that. I think the state of YSU athletics is well, plus we earned the Horizon League’s McCafferty all-sports trophy last year during COVID and we’re having a pretty darn good year this year.”
Tressel feels the transfer portal for student-athletes is here to stay.
“It’s here to stay. I don’t know if I wished they had it when I was coaching,” the five-time national champion coach added. “I like having guys for a long time and helping them mature, watching them mature and seeing them grow up. Players coming in and out, it’s a little harder to have an impact on them outside of the game. I think looking at coach [John] Barnes and coach [Jerrod] Calhoun, both have done a nice job of who they’ve brought in.
“It would be easy just to go and try to find, ‘I need this position or I need that.’ Coach Phillips has been the same way. None of them have said this is the only answer, they’ve still wanted to build some, portal some and it will be interesting to see.
“I think our basketball teams have been getting better, which is what you want to do at the end of the year. It’s hard to be good at the beginning when you have some people who haven’t played together. So far, so good and I think the coaches that can do the best job with roster management, which will include building teams and utilization of the portal, those are going to be the ones that win.”
You can add Tressel to the growing list of fans of Chelsea Olson, YSU women’s basketball’s graduating senior.
“I’ve always felt watching her over these last five years that Chelsea doesn’t shoot enough,” Tressel said smiling. “She’s the most unselfish player, could score 20-plus points a game but she’s a defender, a passer, she’ll play point if you need her or the two if asked. She’s a team member and leader so I’ve been awfully proud of what she’s done and hoping she can have a really fun postseason run.”
Tressel also believes NILs (name, image and likeness) are here to stay.
“I think it was just a matter of time,” he noted. “Intercollegiate athletics became such a huge business and the tangible ability for the player to get it. They’ve got lots of intangibles, you know, just playing the game and I don’t care what sport you play, plus an education but the tangible, it got so large and the amount of money yet their tangible game never changed.
“It’s gone from 0 to 60 in five seconds and it is going to be interesting to see if we can handle the speed of the car.”
Next Monday, former middleweight champion of the world, Kelly Pavlik, will serve as guest speaker.