At Friday (9.13.2013) evening’s Thomas Worthington High School football game vs. Eastmoor the baseball stadium was renamed as Gussler Park in honor of current Thomas Worthington teacher and baseball coach, Steve Gussler. Because the field was already named Frank Welling Field, the stadium was named in honor of coach Gussler and signage read: Frank Welling Field at Gussler Park.
Steve’s courageous battle with cancer has been well-documented. His coaching success over the past several years which has coincided with this fight with cancer has also been well-documented. With the naming of the park, future generations will learn about Steve.
It’s not often that a field or stadium is named after someone. There really are only two ways to gain naming rights. The first is to give a very large donation to a project and thus be given naming rights. This happened at Thomas Worthington High School and thus the field is now named Hamilton Field. (And, to be clear: we very much appreciate that donation!!! This has allowed Worthington students from, kindergarten through high school, to benefit from a turf field. Currently Worthington Kilbourne High School is raising funds for their turf field. Donations to that project would be appreciated and would benefit youth in our community. I’m all for private donations. As an aside, I’d be happy to wear your company logo on my suit coat if you want to sponsor me…thus, I’m all for method number one.)
The second way to gain naming rights, is to make such an incredible impact that the community asks for your name to bestow a site. This is what has happened with Steve. As a teacher first, and as a coach, Steve has given many years to students in Worthington. He has pushed them to succeed, he has built strong relationships with them, and over the past several years he has been an incredible example to both students and adults about how to face adversity. His courage, his determination, and his dedication to students, when faced with the greatest possible personal challenge, have been an inspiration. Thus, it’s important that not only this generation of Worthington students and families learn from Steve, but future generations do as well. Gussler Park will provide the impetus for those conversations to occur. “Dad, why is is called, Gussler Park?” “Son, let me tell you about coach Gussler and what Only The Strong really means….” I imagine that there will be many of those conversations.
The game against Eastmoor was significant because Steve is a 1989 graduate of Eastmoor. When the naming rights were unveiled between the first and second quarter, not only was Steve greeted at mid-field by Superintendent Dr. Thomas Tucker, and Principal Jim Gaskill, he was greeted by the head football coach at Eastmoor, the captain of the Eastmoor football team and an Eastmoor cheerleader. If the event wasn’t emotional enough, the class of the Eastmoor coaches and athletes, the respect they showed, brought me to tears. Their actions put our games and our competition in perspective. Columbus City Schools, and Eastmoor high school, should be proud of their coach and athletes. I sure was!
This spring my daughters and I will make certain to watch a baseball game at Gussler park. We’ll wear our GussStrong gear and we’ll eat a hot dog behind home plate. Most importantly we’ll talk about courage, we’ll talk about overcoming adversity, we’ll talk about the important things is life at a place where the name stands for something.