By Michael Rich
Big Walnut football announcer Glenn Evans, former football player Taylor Jonard and track and field coach Mike Ryder will be inducted into the Big Walnut High School Wall of Fame Friday before the home opener against Mansfield Senior.
Evans got his start as a favor that was only supposed to last a couple of weeks. 32 years later, that favor has turned into a voice of Friday night football in Sunbury.
“I have had the privilege over the years of watching some of the best athletes to come out of Big Walnut, the coaches and staff to be inducted into the Wall of Fame ceremony,” Evans said. “I just feel pretty honored and privileged to be a part of that now.”
Evans has also served for 40 years with the Lions Club.
“He’s a community guy,” Big Walnut Athletic Director Brian Shelton said. “He supports Big Walnut, he supports our kids here and I think we’re fortunate to have him.”
Jonard played football at Big Walnut and graduated in 2007. He was named All-OCC, All-District and All-Ohio Honorable Mention his senior year before moving onto Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio.
“(Big Walnut) was one of the more memorable times as far as when I played football,” Jonard said. “I went on to play college at Lake Erie College. Big Walnut was a special place to play football. I met a lot of great guys; played with a lot of great guys. It was definitely a very special place to play. Not everybody has that experience that I had at Big Walnut.”
Ryder was on the track team for Big Walnut from 1980-1983. But it was his success as a coach, which started 22 years ago, that earned him his induction.
“I was mediocre, at best,” Ryder said. “I think I only got to run district one time because there was guys that were just way better than me.”
He has coached one outdoor state champion and eight individual indoor state champions during his tenure as the jump coach.
He said the bug for coaching began when he helped a neighbor kid with his jump.
“I can’t (compete) anymore,” Ryder said. “But it’s pretty cool to be able to take somebody else and make them better.”
Ryder credits the students who have jumped for him over the years as the reason that he is being recognized.
“I only take credit for putting the program out there and the girls work it themselves,” Ryder said of his tenure. “If they don’t put the time in and they don’t put that effort in then those numbers do not happen. These kids are putting in more time than anybody else in the state. If I had a one percent effect on that work ethic, than that’s what makes it all worthwhile,”
Eight nominees were voted on by the committee, a tradition started by former Athletic Director Steve Glesenkanp.
“The Wall of Fame has been in this program for 23-plus years and we’re going to continue that tradition,” Shelton said. “What (Glesenkanp) has developed here, we want to continue. This has been
his program for the last 23 years plus and he has done a great job and the community respects him for it so we’re going to keep going.”
Reporting intern Michael Rich can be found on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.