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Late Boardman Coach gets honored by OHSAA

June 13, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

At the recently held OHSAA coach's clinic, a total of 26 coaches (13 from boys sports/13 from girls sports) were chosen as recipients for its Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity award.

One of the coaches selected was ex Boardman assistant football coach Rich Washinko. Sadly, Coach Washinko wasn't present to accept his accolades. The former Columbiana resident passed away from leukemia in 2017 at the age of 63. He left behind a legacy that made it seem as if this honor from the OHSAA was created in his memory.

"The three words sportsmanship, ethics and integrity summed up Rich's life," said Columbiana head football coach Bob Spaite, who nominated Washinko for the award.

"I feel very strongly about Rich. He never wanted the spotlight and would have gone out of his way not to get this award. I never met a person who said a bad word about him."

It would be difficult to find a better expert on Washinko's life and career than Coach Spaite. The veteran coach of the Clippers first met Washinko at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1970s. They were close friends until the day Washinko passed away. Spaite is the Region 8 director for coaches covering Mahoning and Columbiana counties. His nomination led to Washinko becoming a finalist for the award. All 16 directors and OHSAA officers voted. It was almost unanimous that Washinko was chosen.

"The OHSAA congratulates the award winners and thanks them for their outstanding service to Ohio's student athletes," wrote the OHSAA in a press release. "They respect the values, sportsmanship, ethics and integrity through their professional responsibilities and are role models for others."

Washinko has been a role model since he was a quarterback at Pitt. He graduated from that highly touted university in 1975. He later earned a Masters of Education from Youngstown State. He retired in 2010 after 35 years as a guidance counselor for the Salem school district. The fact that he spent his professional life mentoring young people comes as no surprise. He coached both basketball and football for over 30 years. He was the offensive coordinator on the state champion Lisbon football team in 1995. The youth quarterback camps that Washinko ran each summer over the past 19 years are downright legendary. Coach Spaite was a partner with Washinko at those camps.

"I can't count how many young men's lives he touched," Spaite said. "He always talked about character to the kids."

Boardman head football coach Joe Ignazio sounded in awe when he discussed how much Washinko knew about the art of playing quarterback.

"Rich could coach the heck out of qb's," Ignazio said.

Coach Ignazio met Washinko when they were both members of D.J. Ogilvie's staff on the Spartans in the early 2000's. The current Boardman boss was very complimentary of Washinko's communication abilities.

"I learned a lot from him as a young coach," Ignazio said. "I wish we could have coached together more."

Although Washinko was stricken with leukemia, he never used it as an excuse for not living each day to its fullest. That included keeping the traditional football camp rolling.

"He never missed it," Spaite said. "He lived a very honorable life."

That quarterback camp will still take place in late June despite Washinko's absence. It will mark the 20th season for the event. Coach Spaite will be there to make sure everything runs as smoothly as it did when his best friend was around.

"He always wanted to do it 20 years," said Spaite. "He would be very proud."



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