By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The “Getting to Know” series is designed to help the community learn more about the coaches and administrators that are guiding today’s Portage County student-athletes to be tomorrow’s leaders.
Today, we get to know Kent Roosevelt High School athletic director Ben Dunlap.
Q: What schools did you attend growing up?
A: All in Kent. Franklin Elementary, Davey Junior High and Roosevelt High School (Class of 1994). I played basketball.
A: Kent State University. Class of 1999. Bachelor’s in Business Education and Master’s in Sports Administration.
Q: What inspired you to be a coach?
A: The coaches that I was able to play for and witness during my time at Roosevelt. I was very grateful for the impact that each had on me, and I very much wanted to positively impact student-athletes in that way.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence as a coach?
A: I have had the privilege to be impacted by so many mentors that it would be impossible to name just one. Coach Fred George, who was my high-school coach, obviously, had a tremendous influence on me. Although I never played for them, Mr. Dave Grosse (AD while I was in school) and Coach (John) Nemec always put kids first and stressed the importance of developing relationships that I have strived to keep with me to this day. Another is Cameron Black, who I coached basketball with at Roosevelt for seven years. He taught me so much about not only being a coach, but, more importantly, being a good man and a great father.
Q: Funny story nobody would believe from your playing days?
A: When I was a freshman (think early 1990’s basketball uniforms), we were playing at Stow and our shorts were extremely short in those days, so we would tie them very loosely and below our waist. Well, during the game I was dribbling the ball on a fastbreak when I could feel the shorts slipping, so I had to stop and take care of the shorts before it was too late. Fortunately, I was able to avoid a real embarrassment!
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: Yellowstone and all of its spinoffs.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: I really do have so many to pick, but if I have to, I would say Fletch.
Q: Favorite musical artist?
A: I really do enjoy all types of music and frequently change stations in the car, as well as my playlists have a great variety.
Q: Favorite food or meal?
A: Steak and baked potatoes.
Q: Best vacation?
A: Tie between our honeymoon in Maui and Disney Cruise with the whole family.
Q: Favorite quote?
A: “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” — Michael Jordan.
Q: Describe what traits, characteristics or philosophies you look for when hiring a coach?
A: They must put kids first, be a relationship builder, be a great communicator and be someone willing to be visible and active in our community.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
A: In Kent: River Merchant and Ray’s Place. Outside of Kent: Mabel’s BBQ on East 4th Street in Cleveland. We rarely go to a game in Cleveland without stopping.
Q: Favorite teacher from high school?
A: My spanish teacher Mr. Mike Honk. Not only was he a great teacher, but he was a former assistant basketball coach for years. Even though he wasn’t coaching while I was in high school, he would open up the gym for me at 6 a.m. every morning and put me through drills.
Q: Advice you would give the younger version of you?
A: To enjoy the journey and not be in a hurry to grow up!
Q: Favorite coach from your playing days?
A: My high-school coach: Fred George.
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: The Ohio State Buckeyes. And if you ask my family, it does not matter the sport!
Q: Favorite athlete then?
A: Charles Barkley.
Q: Favorite athlete now?
A: I am not sure I have one now, but I guess I will say LeBron James. I met him once while he was in high school, and I found him to be very humble and sincere. He won the first championship in Cleveland in over 50 years and is about to break the NBA’s all-time scoring record (a record I never thought would be broken after being a kid when Kareem set it) — all while seemingly being a great husband and father.
Q: First job as a teenager?
A: Well, my first job was at 8 years old. I delivered the Akron Beacon Journal until I was in high school. In high school, I got a job at a All-Pro Sports Center in Kent and worked there all the way through college.
Q: Family member that always gave you the best advice?
A: My mom has always given me the best advice. It may not have always been wanted, but I am sure I needed it and have tried to live my life on the advice and guidance my wonderful parents instilled in me.
Q: Halloween costume last year?
A: No costume. I am not a fan of dressing up for Halloween and will avoid wearing a costume at all costs!
Q: Favorite video game?
A: I feel like I am dating myself, but NCAA Gamebreaker.
Q: First car?
A: After I graduated from high school, I spent $400 on a 12-year old Toyota Corolla that had more rust on it than it had paint. It also would not start if it had rained in the previous 24 hours, but it was mine and I enjoyed it!
Q: Shoutout to former teammates?
A: Wow, so many through the years! It is so hard to name them all, but here are a few that really impacted me: Tony Boykin, Scott George, Scott Simone, Mike Lowe, Dwyte Smiley, Mike Pechac, Brett Edwards and Demetrius Wright.
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