The bronze statue of former Ohio State football coach now stands outside Lee Stadium.
NEWCOMERSTOWN — They will be talking about this for years, if not decades.
A bronze statue of Wayne Woodrow Hayes, Coach Woody Hayes, was unveiled at Lee Stadium in Newcomerstown on Saturday afternoon as the culmination of a “Bring Woody Home” campaign and as part of the “Gateway to Fall” celebration held annually in Newcomerstown.
A native of Newcomerstown, Hayes graduated from Newcomerstown High School before going on to his legendary career as a head football coach for The Buckeyes.
The statue was made possible through the efforts of the Eleven Warriors, an Ohio State University fan organization, which was able to raise over $40,000 to erect a statue of Woody Hayes in Newcomerstown, where the legendary coach graduated from Newcomerstown High School, where his father, Wayne Hayes, was superintendent. Coach Hayes also coached in Tuscarawas County at New Philadelphia High School, with its football stadium named Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium.
Speaking at the event were Steve Hayes, the son of Woody and Anne Hayes and Archie Griffin, two-time Heisman Trophy winner, along with Chris Lauderbach of the Eleven Warriors, Newcomerstown Mayor Pat Cadle, BJ McFadden of the Newcomerstown Historical Society and Vane Scott III, president of the Newcomerstown Historical Society, who also emceed the event.
The unveiling was in conjunction with the “Gateway to Fall” event on the same day, hosted by the Thomas R. Little Foundation, a Newcomerstown-based philanthropic organization named for the late Newcomerstown attorney Thomas R. Little, who was involved in many projects in the community.
Steve Hayes talked about being the son of Woody Hayes and being taught the value of hard work and doing things the right way.
Hayes provided several anecdotes, including one time when his father couldn’t do a workout with him and Steve thinking the workout would be a lot easier with an assistant coach.
“No, it was the same thing,” Hayes said, “You know who the assistant coach was? Bo, Bo Schembechler.”
Hayes talked about working on an English paper and coming home to find it torn up in tatters with a note, “You can do a lot better.”
“I learned a valuable lesson,” Hayes said. “I learned to hide my English themes.”
But his father also had a lighter side, Hayes said, recalling him drawing a mustache on a picture of himself at the Hi-Li Restaurant in Columbus. The restaurant, of course, didn’t know who did it and had it cleaned. Two weeks later, Coach Hayes drew the mustache on again. After that, Steve Hayes said, the restaurant moved the picture into the bar area.
“Some people ask if I’m an only child,” Steve Hayes said. “I tell them no, that my father has had thousands of sons.”
To help lead off his remarks, Griffin led an OH-IO cheer and said “Oh, I love hearing that response and I know that Buckeye Nation is alive and well, living here in Newcomerstown, Ohio.
Griffin talked about his relationship with Coach Hayes and how the coach stressed education and “paying forward, which to me is the true essence of Woody Hayes.” He noted that the coach would take some players after the Thursday practices and visit patients at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, never wanting the media to know.
Griffin related an anecdote about one trip to Michigan for the annual rivalry game. He said that the waitresses at the restaurant were all very pretty girls. Griffin said Coach Hayes noticed the players paying attention to the pretty girls so he went into the kitchen and brought the cooks out to serve the meal, saying, “I know Bo Schembechler sent them here to distract us and it’s not going to work.”
The bronze statue will be inside Newcomerstown’s Olde Main Street Museum for the next several weeks and then be place in its permanent location between that museum and the Temperance Tavern Museum next door. The Olde Main Street Museum also has several display cases of items featuring Woody Hayes and Cy Young, who is also a native of the Newcomerstown area.