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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Clay Rolf is impossible to miss on the basketball court.

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         Clay Rolf

At nearly 6-7 and 250 pounds, it's easy to see why Bowling Green State University offered the Eastwood senior a football scholarship.

Do fans who for the first time watch Rolf play basketball view him merely as a football player who happens to play basketball? Or, do fans walk away thinking, 'Hey, this kid can really ball.' "

"Here's what I would say," third-year Eastwood basketball coach Todd Henline said. "They're going to be more impressed with his athletic ability than his basketball ability. Because of his size, he's going to be able to score and rebound in the Suburban Lakes League. But he moves well and he has a soft touch, which are great basketball attributes.

"Basketball is third on the list for Clay. He is really good at saying whatever sport happens to be in season, that's his favorite sport. He's a great kid, but the time he's put into basketball has been minimal. For what he's done for us the last three years - he's averaged a double-double and he disrupts other teams' offenses - if he would have concentrated on basketball and worked at it, he would have been one of those players where you were saying 'Wow!' "

The fact of the matter is, Rolf, 18, never wanted to focus on one sport.

As a junior, he was a first-team All-SLL and all-district first baseman on the Eagles' baseball team. Last fall, Rolf was a first-team all-league tight end in football, where he also excelled on the defensive line.

In 2008-09, Rolf was named the SLL Player of the Year in basketball and was a first-team all-district selection. He averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds a game for the SLL champion Eagles, who went undefeated in the league for the first time in school history.

Through Wednesday, Rolf was averaging a team-high 16.5 points and a league-leading 12.5 rebounds a game for the Eagles, who have improved to 7-4 and 5-1 in the SLL after a slow start.

Next fall, Rolf will line up at tight end for BGSU, where he also hopes to play baseball. He said basketball rates as his third-favorite sport, well behind football.

"Football is No. 1, definitely," Rolf said. "I love everything about it."

Whether or not he could have been an all-world basketball player at Eastwood had he concentrated on that sport is a moot point for Rolf.

"That's a question that will never be answered," he said. "I could have been worse if I concentrated on one thing. I'm trying to enjoy my senior year as much as I can. So far it's been great. I don't want to leave yet."

Genoa basketball coach Jeff Overmyer, whose team faced Eastwood on Thursday, said he has admired Rolf's accomplishments as a three-sport athlete.

"Clay has enjoyed an extremely successful athletic career," Overmyer said. "High expectations are placed on him, and to his credit he has met and exceeded those expectations despite being the focal point of every opponent's game plan. Clay displays poise and class on the floor and he's a credit to his family, team, school and community. BGSU is gaining a fine athlete and an even finer individual."

Rolf, who has a 3.4 GPA, has followed in the footsteps of several family members who were outstanding athletes at Eastwood.

His father, Chip, a 1986 Eastwood graduate who played football and baseball for the Eagles, said he's never pushed any of his children to play sports.

"Clay has worked extremely hard to get where he's at," Chip said. "Playing three sports, there was never a down time for him but he never complains. We're pretty thrilled for him. He's worked hard to get where he's at and he's getting what he deserves."

What separates Clay from many other three-sport prep athletes is the fact that he isn't full of himself. You won't see him hover over a prone opponent on the football field and you won't see him do any chest-thumping on the hardwood.

"He's humble. He doesn't like to talk about himself," Chip said. "He comes home from a game and, win or lose or if he plays good or bad, he's the same either way. You wouldn't know if he had 30 points or he didn't score at all. He enjoys the team aspect and playing for the team, and he's an even-keeled kid. My wife (Debbie) and I are pretty much the same way."

Debbie Rolf, a 1989 Eastwood grad, played basketball and volleyball for the Eagles. She was a two-time first-team All-SLL post player in basketball.

Clay's grandfather, Paul Rolf, was a football standout at Eastwood and was a two-year letterman (1964, '65) as a tight end at BGSU. The Falcons' 1964 team, the last one coached by Doyt Perry, finished 9-1.

Clay's uncle, Denny DeWese, played basketball at Eastwood and is in the top five in career rebounds in school history.

Clay, whose sister, Courtney, is a sophomore forward on the Eagles' varsity team, said he was well aware of his athletic heritage at Eastwood.

"I wanted to do just as good as them," he said. "They left big marks and I had big shoes to fill. I just tried to make my own place."

Chip Rolf said his son has done more than that.

"From top to bottom, he's by far the best athlete in the family," Chip said. "The things he does and the way he makes it look, especially for his size ... He's always been extremely athletic and he's always been one of the tallest kids in his class. He was never awkward for his size and he could always keep his body under control."

The Rolf family is a tight-knit unit. Mom, Dad and both sets of grandparents try to attend all of the Rolf children's athletic events. When he graduates, Clay will have garnered 11 varsity letters at Eastwood.

Henline said he's been "fortunate" to have been able to coach Rolf the past three years.

"His best attribute is his great leadership ability and the way he works with the younger kids," Henline said. "He's one of those once-in-a-lifetime players you get to coach."

Rolf, who is active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, said he will probably major in education at BGSU.

"I'd like to be a teacher," he said. "Maybe from third through eighth grade. Pretty much all of my family has tried to be a teacher at one time or another. I just like helping out little kids and being around little kids."

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Christmas spending

Are spending more, less or the same amount this year for Christmas?
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