The Bellefontaine high school football community welcomed new head coach Toby Smith (pictured left) in a dramatic way Saturday morning. A full-house in the high school cafeteria came to raise money for the football program, raise money for Alzheimer’s research, and listen to retired Ohio State head football coach Earle Bruce.
Bruce’s availability was made possible by the Ohio Fraternal Order of Eagles. The Eagles have pledged to raise a million dollars on behalf of Alzheimer’s. Saturday, Richard Shannon and Kenny VanStreader (pictured lower right) of the Eagles presented a $1,000 check to Bruce to further the cause. Bruce accepted the check on behalf of the Earle and Jean Bruce Foundation. Bruce has lost family members to the disease.
Coordinator of the event Sunny Yoesting indicated that close to $10,000 was raised. 90% of the money will go directly to the football program. The general athletic fund will get the rest.
Sunny Yoesting talks about the successful fund raising program.
Tickets were $20, a silent auction was held, a 50/50 drawing was done, and a picture of Coach Bruce and current Coach Urban Meyer was auctioned for $250. Don Hensley submitted the winning bid.
Bellefontaine and Ohio State graduate Howard Lambert was recognized and greeted by a standing ovation. Lambert played for Woody Hayes and was a starting linebacker his senior year. His team won the Rose Bowl.
Smith was clearly excited by the turnout, the generosity of those involved, and the opportunity to talk to Coach Bruce. Smith has high expectations for this team and fully expects his new squad to meet the demands of his system.
Smith talks about the day and what is ahead.
Bruce spoke for nearly 25 minutes. He shared thoughts on what is needed for a winning team, told stories about former players (Tom Tupa and Cris Carter) and provided inspiration to the current squad. He shared that he was the commencement speaker at Bellefontaine 1979's graduation ceremony.
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Watch a portion of Bruce's speech.
Bruce talks high school football and Urban Meyer.
WPKO/WBLL news director Bill Tipple served as master of ceremonies.