The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


March 3, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Remembering the name behind the match

The young men and, in the case of Alesha Zappitella of Conneaut, women, who will take to the mat one final time as high school wrestlers tonight at Lakeside Gymnasium were pretty much still in diapers when the Star Beacon-Mike Scully Senior Classic began.

It’s difficult to fathom that the event, named in honor of the beloved late Star Beacon sports writer, Mike Scully, will blow out the candles in celebration of its 15th birthday tonight.

I can’t really believe it’s been 15 years since Mike died from lymphoma at age 52 on Aug. 25, 1998.

The Senior Classic, the first of its kind for wrestling when it began March 19, 1999 at the since-torn-down Ball Gymnasium, remains the only newspaper-sponsored all-star match in the region and it’s been going strong ever since.

Mike championed the sport of wrestling. In truth, the sport sort of mirrored “The Skull,” the name which he became known as across Northeast Ohio. While Mike’s efforts were not nearly appreciated enough during his 12-year tenure as a sports writer here, he was truly loved by the wrestling community because like Mike, wrestling did not receive nearly the publicity — nor the crowds — as did basketball.

So Mike wrapped his arms around the sport... and the wrestlers, their families and friends and the coaches across the area embraced him in return.

For years, Mike and another longtime colleague, the late Karl Pearson, had talked about starting a wrestling all-star match to go along with our popular Star Beacon Senior Classic basketball games.

Unfortunately, it took The Skull’s passing for it to become a reality, just shy of seventh months after his death.

Tough go of it

The Skull was a big man with an even bigger heart.

He understood the plight of the downtrodden because, in truth, he was one of them.

But he was the kind of person who truly exemplified the absolute triumph of the human spirit.

If there was anyone who was thrown more than his share of tough breaks and couldn’t be blamed for not having much to laugh or even smile about, it was Mike.

Reluctantly, he shared some of the stories about his struggles as a youngster, when he battled rejection and ridicule for not being able to actually participate in the athletic activities that meant to much to him.

His parents were infirm for much of Mike’s life, but he did the best he could to provide care for them before he himself even finished high school, working two and sometimes three jobs after his school day ended.

He was mugged one late night/early morning after work on the streets of his beloved South Jersey and the injuries were so severe he literally had to learn to walk again.

When he arrived here in Northeast Ohio, first as editor of the Conneaut News-Herald, he lost sight in one eye and the other was failing fast.

The eye issues took the ability to be independent from Mike, making him reliant on the help of others to get around, even to and from work here at the Star Beacon.

Know what, though?

It was never an issue because despite his myriad of medical issues that meant transporting him from place to place extremely difficult, The Skull was never without a ride.

Everyone wanted to help the guy.

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  • Spartans knock around Dragons

    After being cooped up in gymnasiums for the better part of the season so far, the Conneaut and Lakeside softball teams were just happy to get onto a diamond. Playing for the first time in nearly a week, the Spartans toppled the Dragons, 11-2, Thursday afternoon at Lakeside.

    April 18, 2014

  • PV can’t get past Mathews

    Thursday afternoon at Pymatuning Valley, the visiting Mathews Mustangs were able to do what every coach hopes for — execute. They played a clean game from start to finish in every facet of the game, and that carried the Mustangs to an 8-2 Northeastern Athletic Conference victory.

    April 18, 2014

  • Scholastic Statistics:

    Matthews 8, PV 2
    at PV

    April 18, 2014

  • Scholastic Schedule:


    Geneva at Edgewood (11)
    Niles McKinley at Edgewood (5)
    Conneaut at Lakeside (4:30)
    Madison at Euclid (4:30)
    Madison at Edgewood (4:30)
    Geneva at Mentor (10, DH)
    Conneaut at Madison (4)

    April 18, 2014

  • Justin Butler Justin time

    It was just four short years ago that Justin Butler was spending his fall on a soccer field.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: ‘Kids’ stuff’ spurs great responses

    I’m often caught more than a bit off-guard by what stories, features or columns generate responses from you, Loyal Readers, much more so than those who do not.
    For example, the column that appeared in this space a couple of days ago regarding things yours truly and my buddies did as kids prompted more than a few responses.
    A sampling, many of which were posted on my Facebook page:

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • kyle GANG GREEN

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scholastic Schedule:

    Grand Valley at Maplewood (4:30)
    St. John at Lawrence (4:30)
    Mathews at PV (4:30)
    Fairport at Perry (7:30)
    West Geauga at Madison (4:30)
    Harvey at Riverside (4:30)
    Jefferson at Harding (5)

    April 16, 2014

  • Olivia In transition

    Pymatuning Valley graduate Olivia Holt had a distinct reason she chose to play basketball for Mount Union.
    “They do have tradition,” Holt, the daughter of Gus and Michelle Holt, said. “I’m from PV. We had a tradition of winning and working hard there. I wanted to go somewhere that tradition mattered. I knew I was going to get better by coming here.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: Spring has sprung one big leak

    Paying a Wednesday morning visit to the variety store...

    Think spring?
    If this, um, err, uh... spring... feels a bit unusual for high school baseball and softball teams in Northeast Ohio, it is, to a point.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Sports Week in Review April 7-12
Spring Sports Practice in Ashtabula County
2014 AP BB Tourney Top 25
2014 AP BB Tourney Scoreboard
2014 AP BB Tourney News
2014 AP BB Tourney Photos
Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic
Girls Regional Basketball Action
Week of Champions
Sports Week in Review February 21, 22
Grand Valley at Edgewood Boys Basketball
Sports Week in Review Feb. 3 to 8
Sports Week in Review January 30 to Feb. 1
Sports Week in Review January 13-18
Sports Week in Review January 10 and 11
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video