The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 12, 2013

In honor of no average Joe

Second B-ball gala to raise funds for the Joe “Pigskin” Pete Memorial Scholarship set for Thursday

For the Star Beacon

— Joe “Pigskin” Pete’s love for local student-athletes has been well-documented. Nearly a year and a half after the local legend passed away, that love is still being passed along.

Pete’s colleagues and friends at ESPN Radio 970 WFUN are making sure of that. The Media One radio station will host the Joe “Pigskin” Pete Memorial Scholarship Basketball Game at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Jefferson’s Falcon Gymnasium. Pregame festivities are slated to begin around 6:30. Entry to the event will be a $5 donation to the Joe “Pigskin” Pete Scholarship Fund.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to continue Joe’s legacy,” ESPN 970 WFUN program director David Miller said. “He loved the kids in the area. He loved talking about them and he loved covering them. We want to raise money for the scholarship fund and keep building up the kids in the area.”

The hope is to pack Falcon Gym.

“Jefferson’s gym holds 1,000 people,” Miller said. “I hope to have 1,000 people there supporting their local high school students.”

As an incentive for people to attend the game, ESPN Radio 970 WFUN will hold the first signups for the second Urban Meyer/Dean Hood Football Camp for athletes entering grades one through eight this fall.

“It’s all about getting the kids to this event,” Miller said.  

The game will pit local coaches and school officials against local legends and members of the media in its second year. Former Cleveland Cavaliers greats Austin Carr and Campy Russell will serve as honorary coaches and designated free-throw takers.

“Last year, we talked to the Cavs about doing something,” Miller said. “We knew the scholarship needed money so we got the Cavs and Dr. (William) Seeds involved and hashed out a plan for the game. It was put together at the last minute — we had about a week to prepare.

“After (the Cavs) left, they said they wanted to do it again. We knew we were going to do it, it was just a matter of getting everything to come together.”

Having Carr and Russell take all of the free-throw attempts for their respective teams presents a bit of a unique wrinkle.

“As part of a new wrinkle, we’re have Austin and Campy take the free throws for their teams. In some ways, you want to see fouls because you want to see them shoot.

“But you also don’t want to foul because a former NBA All-Star will be taking the shots.”

Miller and Brad Ellis will be joined by Cavaliers radio man John Michael for the radio broadcast.

Jefferson superintendent Doug Hladek and Lakeside superintendent Pat Colucci will participate, as well as Edgewood athletic director Steve Kray, Jefferson boys basketball coach Jeremy Huber, Lakeside boys coach Mark Taylor, Conneaut boys coach Tim Tallbacka, Edgewood boys coach John Bowler and St. John assistant girls coach Keith Berrier. Cody Slaybaugh and Russ Simeone, hosts of Pete’s former show, “The Sports Report,” will also participate.

“We planned a 3-on-3 thing as a tuneup,” Miller said. “(Russ and Cody) started the trash talk and joking about who was going to have to mow the others’ lawns.

“I’m sure with the coaches and players, it will start to happen in the pregame as they warm up. It’s all a part of the entertainment value.”   

The game will be played by OHSAA rules with eight-minute quarters.

As part of the festivities, former Star Beacon Ashtabula County Players of the Year, Ace Jones, Harry Story and Andrew Konczal as well as former Lakeside great Cody Blizzard, will compete in a 1-on-1 tournament.

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.