New Castle News

August 15, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: Thanks to chance meeting, it’s a fish story I won't soon forget

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — So my son and I were fishing.

OK, he was fishing.

Me? I was soaking up the sunshine and soaking in one of life’s “moments.” You know, those times when no camera is necessary to capture the image in the mind forever.

In fact, I was gazing into the glass-like waters at Maumee Bay when I was swallowed up by a shadow that seemed to span the dock we were on.

“How are you gentlemen?” a raspy voice bellowed.

Both David and I were a bit startled. The glare from the sunshine on the water nearly blinded us, so we held a salute over our eyes as we looked up.

The dude was massive.

“We’re good,” I responded. “Just doin’ a little fishin’.”

“Any luck?”

“We’ve gotten some bites but nothing hooked yet.”

Did I say the dude was massive? About 6-5 or so, chiseled, and with hands that could carry a tackle box without a handle. Looked to be in his late 40s or so.

My first thought: This guy HAD to play some sport somewhere.

My second thought: Maybe this guy is STILL playing some sport somewhere.

He dropped his gear, reached into a bucket of minnows, baited-up and cast his line.

“You guys fish here often?” he asked.

“No. We’re up here on vacation and just checking out the waters.”

“How about you?” I asked. “You from this area?”

“Yes. Toledo. ”

“You a Buckeyes fan or a Michigan man?”

“Haha! I like both, actually.”

“You can’t!” I replied. “That’s like rooting for both the Red Sox and Yankees, or Duke and North Carolina. It just won’t work.”

“Aw, it works,” he countered with a deep laugh. “I went to the University of Tennessee, so I’m sort of neutral anyway. I’ve been away for nearly 30 years, but I moved back here last year when my mother was sick."

“Wow. Where were you?”

“Over in England.”

“Cool. What were you doing over there? Military or job?”

“Playing a little basketball for a pro team in Manchester. We weren’t as popular as the soccer team over there, but I had a lot of fun.”

The man pointed to his right.

“You know, there’s a pond down the road that’s stocked for kids. You should check it out. I guarantee you’ll catch some big old catfish.”

That’s all my son needed to hear. Within seconds he was packed and ready to go.

“Nice meeting you, sir,” I called out as we began to walk away. “What was your name again?”

“Terry. Terry Crosby.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Terry. Maybe we’ll see you around.”

No sooner than we arrived at the pond, my curiosity got the best of me. I pulled out my iPhone and googled “Terry Crosby, Tennessee.”

“Holy smokes!” I shouted. “This guy was a beast!”

Yep, I learned plenty about his athletic career from that simple search, but I’ve filed away three key lessons for future reference. You might want to do the same.

1) You don’t have to specialize to be special — According to the Toledo Blade, Crosby was a two-sport standout at DeVilbiss High in the mid-1970s. And during one six-day stretch in November of 1974, he laid claim to being one of the greatest athletes to emerge from Ohio.

On Nov. 24, DeVilbiss beat St. John’s 42-20 in the City League football championship. Crosby rushed for 328 yards, scored three touchdowns and intercepted three passes in leading his team to a second straight title.

Six days later, DeVilbiss’ first basketball game was against defending city champion Scott, which was led by future Kentucky standout Truman Claytor.

With less than a week to transition from football to basketball, Crosby scored 38 points in a one-point loss.

Crosby was told by legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes that he would have started as a freshman for the Buckeyes, but Crosby said no to Hayes and Bo Schembechler at Michigan and chose to play basketball in college.

•The Lesson: No need to drop all other sports and specialize at age 4. Enjoy your school days. Enjoy your coaches and teammates in different sports. Develop your entire body as you take part in a variety of activities.

2) Be a star where you are — Crosby didn’t just “attend” the University of Tennessee. He scored nearly 20 points per game during his junior year after subbing for All-Americans Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld during his first two seasons. In his senior year, he led the Vols past Claytor and defending national champion Kentucky three times.

After playing briefly with the Kansas City Kings, Crosby spent 14 seasons in England. He once scored 73 points in a game and averaged more than 36 points per game during one season.

Though Crosby barely had a cup of coffee in the NBA, he’s living proof that you don’t have to play at the highest level to play at the highest level.

•The Lesson: You may not be where you’ve dreamed of arriving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your greatest potential. Dig deep, work on your craft and give it your all whether 20,000 or just 20 people are watching.

3) We don’t live just one story. We live in seasons — Crosby, now 56, told me he returned to the United States in 2011 to be with his ailing mother, who has since died. He’s remained in Toledo as a counselor working with troubled youths.

“It’s a tough city,” he said. “Not a lot of jobs, but a lot of violence. Black kids shooting black kids. I’m trying to give them some hope.”

•The Lesson: Like athletics, life moves along in seasons. Child to parent. Student to teacher. Player to coach. There’s a time to follow and a time to lead and mentor. Each segment can be filled with hope no matter how dire the circumstances might seem.

And it was hope — and some pretty amazing history — that Crosby shared with us as his real life intertwined with our reel life that day on the bay.

It’s a fish story we won’t soon forget.

(Tim Kolodziej is executive editor at The News. To follow him on Twitter, CLICK HERE.)