On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Ted Ginn Sr. will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
The honor will put him in a pantheon with hall of fame athletes, legendary broadcasters and people who changed the business of sports. Ginn, a 1974 graduate of Glenville High School, has had unparalleled success as a football and track coach at his alma mater. In 1999, the Tarblooders became the first Cleveland Metropolitan School District school to make the OHSAA playoffs, and last fall, they capped off an undefeated season with a state championship, another first for a CMSD school.
Cleveland Magazine: Winning a state title in football is a big deal to any school. Was it an even bigger deal to you at Glenville?
Ted Ginn Sr.: I feel like it was something we accomplished for everyone — all the kids and people in our city. There’s a myth that people had that we’d never be able to get it done because we were a city school. Nobody had that expectation for us. I can remember coaches here who never had that type of success as a goal. We’re a proud city, and I thought it was good for the city to show we could achieve at the highest level.
CM: How did you get into coaching?
TGS: The only thing I ever went after was to be a machinist. Everything in my life came through Glenville. I graduated in 1974 and went to work. In 1976, my mother died, and it [had been] just me and her. I played center in high school, and my coach came down and said, “Come to school and teach this boy how to snap the ball.” He wanted to keep me around and keep me from straying. I had never thought about being a coach. I was made to do it. I stayed there for 10 years for free. I got a job as a coach in 1986 and then in 1997, I became head coach. I didn’t want that job, but they made me take that, too. I didn’t want to be a track coach, but they made me take that.
CM: You might be even more successful as a track coach than a football coach. (The Tarblooders are defending state champions, the most recent of seven state track titles with Ginn as a coach.) Which do you like better?
TGS: I love track more than I love football, but I’m proud of both of them. I’m more proud of the kids who stay disciplined and fundamentally sound to win these things. It’s harder now than before for kids to stay focused and disciplined.
CM: You’ve achieved a lot of success as a coach in a tough environment. What’s your secret?
TGS: Love and care. Having passion and expectations. There’s no magic dust. It’s serving and doing what you were supposed to. I’m proud that I’m able to serve.
CM: What are you proudest of as a coach?
TGS: The most proud I am is to be able to impact children and show the community and the city that we can be more than the people they expect us to be as those inner-city kids. We have proven that we can achieve in every area, in sports and in life.
CM: A lifetime achievement has an air of finality to it. Are you planning to ride off into the sunset?
TGS: I’m going to keep going. I won’t rust. I’m just going to give out.
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