By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Signs of appreciation seem to peak for parents when their children are in school.
When they are competing across multiple sports, filling up daily schedules with games, practices, training sessions and more.
And, rightfully so.
Especially when their children are too young to be their own mode of transportation and schedules are constantly being juggled to make it all work.
However, as children grow into adults, the parents never stop supporting their children.
Even into adulthood.
The wrestling coaches of Portage County know that because they live it.
Many of the parents to the county’s coaches still come to all of their matches — or as many as possible — to cheer and support their child with the same love they did when were the young ones competing.
Today, we meet some of those parents through the words and stories of the coaches themselves.
Because saying thank you, genuinely, still has an impact on people no matter how old you get.
Mother: Teresa Benton.
Father: Kenny Kline.
“My parents, along with my grandmother and grandfather Paula and Bill Kline, along with my aunt Kathy (Kline) Jones instilled in me a hard work ethic. I was taught if youw ant to make something of yourself, you must work very hard for it.
“Neither of my parents coached, but I was inspired by my Ravenna wrestling coach Steve Reedy. I wanted to give back to the sport of wrestling — in what I was taught and instilled in me by him. His expectations of all of his wrestlers was for us to go and make something positive out of our lives.”
Mother: Denise Kuberry.
Father: Dennis Kuberry.
“I will never be able to express enough appreciation for all of the things my parents did for me through my life and now in my kids’ lives. They were always steadfast, determined and devoted to both my sister and I. They constantly made the best choices for us and regardless of how it was perceived, they always did the right thing. When I make choices, I always think back to the way they approached things and try to make choices in that mold. They always held me accountable, but it was always from a place of love.
“My dad coached me a lot when I was younger and always had the approach of give it all you have, be hard-nosed and don’t give up. Still, to this day, we talk about how hard work always pays off. I think of him when I think of the program we want to build back at Southeast.
“While my mother did not coach me, she did everything else imaginable. She was always there to support me, made sure I was taken care of, well fed and was always there to bring me back to center during hard times.”
Mother: Debbie Zupancic.
Father: Jim Zupancic.
“My parents still come to watch most of our team’s events. My dad did not coach, but he helped a lot with the administrative stuff with the North Akron Wrestling Club, as well as various youth baseball leagues. I learned from his experience that coaching and running any team is long hours. Also, I learned that coaching is a lot more than just strategy and showing technique.”
“Although every member in my immediate family was born somewhere else, my family has been involved in Portage County schools and sports for a while. My mom, Connie Foster, did not coach, but she did teach third grade at Garrettsville for over 30 years. Mom always found a way to connect with those ‘bad kids’ and always seemed to get the best out of them. She would never admit it, but I think she even cheered for some of her students whenever I played against the G-Men. My mom was the epitome of a coach’s wife. Dad was a teacher, athletic director, baseball coach, football coach at Waterloo, so myself and my sister Mandy grew up in the gym or on the fields of Waterloo and mom brought many a meal to us in the bleachers.
“My dad, Riley Foster, attended the University of Arkansas and after college began coaching baseball and football at Glades Central High School in South Florida. After moving from Florida’s to Portage County, dad taught P.E., Ohio History, American History, worked as an athletic director and coached baseball and football. Dad retired from Ravenna High School, where he was the AD.
“Dad also had a way of connecting with the ‘bad kids’ in the classroom and always found a way to get the best out of his student-athletes on the field and in the class. I grew up roaming the sidelines on Friday nights as a ballboy or water boy. I also had my dad as a teacher and as a junior high football coach. The biggest thing I think I took away from watching dad coach was the energy and excitement he coached with, which fed into his players. Dad was able to get the most out of nearly every kid he ever coached. Dad’s football coaching even touched my sister, who as a kid, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would reply, ‘The quarterback’.”
“One of my earliest memories that has always stuck out from my days as a water boy was at the start of the season during two a days when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. We would get to the school before anyone and I would drag the dummies out of the old shed onto the practice field. I would use all of the heavy bags to build a fort and climb inside and sleep. It only took a couple of times having the high-school kids smash my fort with me inside before I decided sleeping on the practice field was not a wise choice.
As a young athlete my parents were very busy, but I can’t remember a single game they weren’t at. Many of the student-athletes today refer to my parents as Papa Riley and Grandma Connie because my parents continue to support the kids at Waterloo and all of the coaches in all of the sports.”
Congratulations to all of you awesome individuals, for your undying dedication and contributions to the character of the young generation. It is an extreme commitment that requires many positive traits including selflessness….
And I’d like to single out one specific individual that I personally know. …Shane Kuberry.