It’s not the Heisman, but locally, it may be the next best thing to it.
Every year, the 29 members of the Downtown Curtice Athletic Club meet and choose who they believe should be the athlete of the year. It can be an individual or team at any level, and they don’t always stick to football.
“We don’t have to be limited to doing a college pick, or we can do a pro pick. We can do anything. We’re open,” said Tom Wuest, Crazy Lady Saloon owner and DCAC co-founder and chairman.
“The sporting events that happened this year were pretty spectacular,” continued Wuest. “Well, Michael Phelps getting eight gold medals, and everybody was picking him. The Heisman Trophy nominations were pretty equal. You could have picked anyone.”
Last year, the DCAC choose the New England Patriots, which became the NFL’s second team to finish the regular season undefeated, but lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Two years ago, it was football player DeMarcus Russell.
This year, the DCAC chose a team from its own backyard — the Genoa High football team. The Comets finished the season 13-1 until losing to eventual state champion Kettering Archbishop Alter in the Division IV state semifinal, 42-34.
“Since we’re a local organization, an amazing event that happened in our area was the football team going as far as they did,” Wuest said.
Wuest and the other members of the DCAC say they believe the Comets would have won a state championship had they defeated Alter. Alter had little difficulty defeating Steubenville in the final at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
“We don’t think (Genoa) lost that game, we just think that they ran out of time,” Wuest said. “Give them another quarter; I think we’d have beaten them by two or three touchdowns. So what could be more amazing for us than to recognize them and their accomplishments?”
Of course, Curtice is border town, so to speak, with part of its unincorporated village in Clay Township, Ottawa County and the other part in Jerusalem Township, Lucas County. It is also on the divide of both Clay and Genoa school districts.
The DCAC is planning to present Genoa football coach Mike Vicars with a plaque or trophy recognizing the Comets.
They are naming their award “The Curtice Cup,” and are interested in having someone like John Heisman make the presentation. Heisman is a Genoa High graduate who lays claim as the only living male descendant of the Heisman family that initiated college football’s annual award that bears his name. Heisman currently resides in West Toledo and is a coach and faculty member at Toledo Christian School.
In addition, Wuest says the Crazy Lady Saloon is interested in organizing a football smoker for the Suburban Lakes League starting in 2009, organized by the DCAC.
Its meetings can be informal, often catered with Buffalo wings, but the DCAC does have some official functions. The “breakfast club-type” organization was founded in 1999, but for the past half decade it has been organizing a golf outing that successfully provides scholarships to Clay and Genoa schools.
Its membership includes anyone who wants to show up at the Crazy Lady Saloon or elsewhere and discuss sports.
“When two or three of us are together at a time, it’s an informal meeting,” said DCAC president and co-founder Jimi Schimmel, a 1978 Genoa graduate.
One of its 29 members is legendary Toledo area radio and television sports broadcaster Frank Gilhooley.
“(Gilhooley) has been here. We made him an honorary member,” Wuest said. “We asked him if he wanted to be part of it when we first started because he used to come out here quite a bit with Ike Zotner, who worked at WSPD, and he would show him around.”
The DCAC has also created its own Hall of Fame. The first person ever inducted into the DCAC Hall was Jean Rost, who was voted in by members in 2004 for being a lifelong friend to Curtice, and for being one of the original founders of Curtice Kidz Days.
Howard “Buddy” Schroeder’s induction followed Rost’s. For a little over 55 years of his 84-year life, a Curtice native and avid local sportsman, the late Schroeder almost always cut the grass at the old baseball field behind the post office every summer.
Schroeder also was known for occupying the position of caretaker of the Dunn family’s locally-famous show horses back when the well-known Curtice clan was still extremely-active on the national equestrian scene.
“I personally thank Buddy for helping me to fulfill my dream of being around horses,” Wuest’s wife and lifelong Curtice resident Fran Gordon-Wuest, owner of Tax Tyme Services in Northwood, told The Press, “He always had the time to help a Curtice kid saddle up and bridle the ponies that the Dunn family kept. By introducing me to that experience, I’ve had a lifetime of love for horses.”