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Golf holds special place in Albright's heart

BY DON HOHLER • Nov 10, 2016 at 3:30 PM

GRAFTON – It was all about football for 37-year coaching veteran Bill Albright.

Maybe not?

Bill Albright’s Midview teams won 175 games. His teams won any number of conference titles and seven times he had teams in the playoffs. He was on the North-South game coaching staff and the year before he retired, he was the head coach of the Big 33 Football Classic, the one that pits the cream of Ohio high school players against Pennsylvania’s best. He won that one too, 24-21 in overtime.

But, despite all those successes, Bill Albright admits golf may have been his strongest sport.

And bearing that out, he retired from football three years ago but he still is in golf. This is his 21st year as a member of Cliff Purtilo’s staff at posh Oberlin Country Club.

“Crazy, huh.” the 62-year-old father of four admits. “I am not sure if I was a better golfer than a football player in high school. I do know that I had more fun playing golf than football mainly because my teammates and I had so much fun playing the game.

“Back then, Norwalk had no baseball team. So, it was either track or golf in the spring. Now it’s a fall sport. Hey, we were not bad. Jim Caprara was solid and so was Scotty Kuhlman. Billy Terry was ahead of me in the program and everyone knows he good he was back then and still is. Like I said, it was a spring sport back then and after a long winter, we just wanted to get outside.

“As far as football, I was pretty much undersized,” the 1972 Norwalk graduate explained. “I played on the defensive line at 150 pounds. That’s just the way it was back then. Played football for Len Hardman, Bob Hart, Kenny Woodruff and Denny Corrigan and golf for Bob Gullett and Jerry Emmons.”

Albright’s father, Ron, along with his neighbor, Marty Kovach, Don Ott and several others had a standing foursome on Sunday mornings for rounds at either Thunderbird, Millstone or Rolling Acres. Bill and Marty’s son, Dave, went along and ball-hawked and ate donuts while the men were playing.

“That got me interested in the game, one that eventually became a family sport because my mother, Pat, and brother, Tom, would many times make up a foursome,” Albright explained. “Mom still is the only one of us to have a hole-in-one and she never lets us forget it.”

The Albright’s, along with Denny Weisenberger, Pat Dublo, Gullett and Emmons, were part of groups that traveled as far as Myrtle Beach for junkets.

Albright did have a cousin, Jim Widman, who could hold his own with the best players in the area. He remembers Widman giving him a couple lessons.

Albright would earn three letters in both golf and football before graduating and heading for Bowling Green. Four years later, he graduated with a degree in science and biology.

“Got a phone call the year I graduated that there was a job opening in my field at Midview High School,” Albright remembered. “I didn’t even know where Grafton was. My resume must have found the Lorain County Board of Education, however, because I got an interview with the head football coach Bill Scheffield and the assistant superintendent. A couple days later they called and said they wanted to hire me as a football assistant and biology teacher. I was there for 38 years.”

Albright calls Midview “an awesome school district”.

“The kids were great kids in and out of the classroom,” he claimed. “Sometimes we did not compete that well in football but the kids never quit on me. And my memory of those athletes and students is what I miss the most.”

Albright claims his most memorable times were when he had family next to him on the sidelines, be it his daughter, Molly, as a water girl, or Zach, the only one of three boys who actually put on a uniform or Bret and Andrew who also had jobs as ball boys. Wife, Lisa, a Grafton native, was also part of the team.

It was Lisa’s brother, an employee at Oberlin CC, who would offer Albright’s name to the club pro as a possible hire for the pro shop. Albright had some experience in that area as he worked for a time at Forest Hills Golf Club.

“Cliff called me in and I guess liked the experience I brought to the job. That was 21 years ago,” Albright remembered.

Now that he is retired from coaching, he starts at the club as early as April and sometimes goes until November.

“Cliff has been a great boss,” Albright assured. “Back when I was coaching, he found ways to meet my schedule and I can’t thank him enough. He has seen my kids come through his Junior Golf Program as I have seen his in my biology classes. He is a good friend.”

At least once a year at the home and away Eagle Creek-Oberlin Interclub Matches, Albright welcomes in some of his Norwalk friends.

“I see guys like Billy Terry, Ron Schnee, Jim Loughton and a number of others,” he explained.

So, the jury is still out. Is it football that he started playing in the early 1960’s or golf which he started a half-dozen years later?

“I don’t guess I was very good at playing either one of them,” he claimed. “I did have some pretty good runs as a football coach though.

And that would be an understatement. The past president of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has one of the highest winning percentages in the rich history of Lorain County football, numbers that have earned him a spot in the Lorain County Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

And he is equally proud of one other thing. His former players, every one of them, still call him either “Mr. Albright” or “Coach”.

And that’s the way it should be.

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