Why me, and regional football, are going to miss Dick Roll… – Press Pros Magazine

Sonny fulks


Sonny Fulks graduated from Ohio State University where he pitched four college seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 to 1974. He deepened his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA) and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites and, for the past fourteen years, has been a columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, supporting amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


After sixteen years as coach of the Lehman Cavaliers, Dick Roll is putting an end to his usual way – without fanfare or fireworks. Just a smile and a quiet appreciation for the time and the memories.

I felt it would be Dick Roll’s last year as Lehman’s football coach when I spoke with him during a passing scrum in July. For several years, I had given him the opportunity to share his plans for the future, and as Dick tends to do, he would kind of give you some parameters and let you infer for yourself.

He said, “I’ll know when it’s time, and if you ask me if I’m coming back next year… yes, I’ll be back.” There is no end in sight, ”then gives you that characteristic smile that accompanies any Dick Roll response.

Last July, he said of this season and the obvious rebuilding at Lehman: “It’s been good for me. I’m excited. But … the end is preview.”

Dick Roll isn’t the kind of guy you remember for the fact of his record, although his 16-season record at Lehman was good – really good (200 wins vs. 71 losses) – given that the school has struggled with football numbers in recent years.

It never discouraged him. He would just look at you and say, “We will be in competition.” Less is more when he speaks.

He loved football, he loved children and he loved to coach. And, he was honest. If you asked him what he loved most about football, kids and training (which I did once), he would look you right in the eye and say, “I like to hit. And of course, the smile.

Lehman’s coach Dick Roll came to Lehman to deal with an “unfinished business”, and he did. He even won 200 games as coach of the Cavaliers.

After sixteen seasons and 200 victories, Dick Roll is leaving his job as coach of the Lehman Cavaliers.

He also liked Lehman and the role of underdog. I think he won a game on opening night during his sixteenth birthday, because every year he had to muster the troops from the four winds, not knowing exactly who was coming back, who was coming and who could play what. .

But by week two or three he had trained his linemen and running game to play physical football, and from there he would try his luck against anyone. His children rarely let him down. I once checked his payout percentage from week three to week ten and it was something like 0.750. Needless to say, they made the playoffs a lot during his coaching tenure.

What I will remember most about Roll is our first meeting, in or around 2005, when he came from Plymouth High School in the Mansfield area to take on the role of Director of Football and sports at Lehman. After a brief and calm speech, I approached him for an interview. He was on his guard, and to tell you the truth, I think he wondered… what is there to ask? It’s my first day.

But over the years I think he started to trust the relationship, and with that came Roll’s true personality. You could sit in his office in Lehman and laugh all afternoon as he quietly told stories about playing for Al Hetrick in Versailles as a high school student (he grew up in North Star)… and how he played with Ansonia coach Eugene Hoening at Wilmington College.

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He valued the coverage of his teams and he valued fairness. He was fiercely loyal to Lehman and his Northwest Central Conference affiliation, and if you ask him about his competitive virtues, he could turn defensive. Dick Roll, whatever his record in the field, was a good companion.

It was fun watching him on the sidelines … because Roll never lost that teenage excitement that comes from playing high school football – doing the block that triggered the touchdown, or the tackle that saved one. . He was delighted to see his children succeed, regardless of the opponent and the importance of the moment. Every game was an opportunity to learn and improve. And another truth, I think he still felt the thrill of putting on the pads, headphones and hitting!

He was a man of discipline, and he was a man of habit. If you hung out in his office for too long in the morning, there would come a time when he would chase you away.

“Hey, I have to go to mass,” he once said to me, interrupting a good story.

Which was good, because Dick Roll has provided a lot of great stories over the years if you knew when to ask.

I’ll miss him. Thanks, Coach, for letting us hang around.

Note: Due to a software issue, we apologize for the overnight service interruption and publication of this column. We appreciate your indulgence.

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