By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Volunteers are volunteers for a reason.
In most cases, they do it because nobody else would.
They do it for the love of their community and for the families that call it their home.
They do it with energy and enthusiasm, almost always with a smile on their face.
The best volunteers simply do it because they want to do it.
It is never about the money.
It is never about the notoriety.
It is never about how many hours they dedicate.
It is never about the spotlight, but today that is exactly what they are getting.
I proudly announce my 3rd annual Volunteers of the Year.
Role: Aurora football chain crew.
Special spotlight: Keckan has been on the chain crew for 18 years, as part of a team that also includes Bill Wittig, Jeff Hunter, Bill Fellenstein, John Fellenestein and John Famageltto.
Special Memory: “There are many exciting games when Aurora came from behind to win, but nothing matches a playoff game,” Keckan said. “The atmosphere is electric. Players and coaches are loud and tension is high. Everyone has to be super focused on every play. It is the last game for one team’s seniors. There is nothing like it.”
What They Are Saying: “Bill and his crew are a very important part of our Friday night game-day operations,” Aurora athletic director Paul Powers said. “He takes his job seriously and has received many compliments over the years regarding the quality of his work.”
Role: Garfield ticket-taker for football, soccer and basketball.
Special Spotlight: Khairallah has helped with athletic events since at least 2013.
What They Are Saying: “Whenever I need help with something, Colleen is the first to volunteer,” Garfield athletic director Jim Pfleger said. “Over the years, her and her family have always been first in line to help.
“She is a vital piece of the athletic department here at JAG,” Pfleger added. “She handles most of the ticket-taking, and she makes my life very easy on Friday nights at our varsity football games. I know with her manning the booth, I have nothing to worry about and I can focus on any issues that arise on the field or in the stadium.”
Role: Kent Roosevelt volunteer team physician.
Special Spotlight: Shah has served in his role in Kent for 22 years, beginning with the 2002-23 season. He provides care for all student-athletes in all of the athletic programs, attending home and away football games, as well as weekly injury checks with our athletic trainers.
What They Are Saying: “We are so thankful and fortunate to have Dr. Shah,” Kent Roosevelt athletic director Ben Dunlap said. “His commitment and dedication to our community for the last 22 yeas has been simply outstanding. He is always so professional with our student-athletes, but has a way of providing care in such a positive and kind manner.”
Role: Ravenna football clock operator.
Special Spotlight: Edwards has volunteered in his role for 28 years. He is a Ravenna resident and his children are all Ravenna alum.
What They Are Saying: “Dan is one of the nicest people you will ever meet,” Ravenna athletic director Jim Lunardi said.
Role: Rose Palmer has handled the boys basketball scorebook for about 20 years. Her husband, Chuck Palmer has been a volunteer boys basketball coach for close to the same period of time, while also previously volunteering as an assistant football coach in the early 2000’s.
What They Are Saying: “Chuck and Rose have gone above and beyond for our boys basketball program for the last two decades,” Rootstown athletic director Keith Waesch said. “Aside from Chuck volunteering countless hours coaching and Rose keeping the book, they have also laundered our boys basketball uniforms after every game. Now if that’s not the definition of going above and beyond, I don’t know what is. We have a lot of outstanding people in our community, and Chuck and Rose are right up at the top of that list. I can’t thank them enough for the time they’ve given to our school district.”
Roles: Owners of United Earthworks (Gary and Taylor); Owners of Hoover Fence Company (Chad and Patty); Owners of Six 2 Excavating (Ian and Linda).
Special Spotlight: All three groups provided valuable expertise to help make the Southeast High School new all-weather track project a reality.
What They Are Saying: “These companies and people donated hours of time and hundreds of thousands of dollars to our track project,” Southeast athletic director Patrick Youel said. “Without these individuals and companies donating their time, materials and work to off-st costs of our track project, our track would not be completed and the dreams that our S.P.A.C.E. organization and Board of Education would not have come true. These people’s contributions couldn’t be more of a blessing to our community, and we couldn’t be more thankful for them.”
Role: Streetsboro football liaison; youth wrestling volunteer.
Special Spotlight: Yonish has been instrumental in connecting the high school and youth football programs over the last 10 years, including time as a coach and currently as the Streetsboro Junior Rockets Football President for the last three years.
Yonish has volunteered on the Rockets’ high school football staff for the last 17 years — since graduating from Streetsboro in 2006.
Role: Waterloo clock operator for football and soccer, as well as stadium grounds crew.
What They Are Saying: “Ryan is a great example of the selfless service we try to teach through our athletic department,” Waterloo athletic director Mike Devies said. “He doesn’t like the limelight or the recognition; he just wants kids to have a chance to succeed.
“In a small community like Waterloo, volunteers are an essential part of making things better for kids,” Devies added. “Whether it is helping out with the booster club or making sure a kid has what he/she needs to be successful, we rely on our volunteers to be excellent role models.”
Role: Windham ticket-taker.
Special Spotlight: Bartlett has been a ticket-taker for more than 15 years.
What They Are Saying: “Angie has been taking tickets for high school football and basketball games for years,” Windham athletic director DJ Gross said. “She has been doing it for as long as I’ve been the athletic director and for many years before I started. She does a great job, and we appreciate her dedication to our athletic department.”