He’s been an assistant coach and a head coach at the high school level.
He’s been an assistant coach and a head coach at the college level.
And he’s been an assistant coach and a head coach in the National Football League.
Ross guided Georgia Tech to a share of the NCAA national championship in 1990, and he led San Diego to Super Bowl XXIX, where his Chargers fell to the 49ers in 1995.
He also coached the Detroit Lions.
Tuesday night, before an overflow crowd at the Lancaster Host Resort, the veteran coach — who is set to begin his third season calling the shots at Army this fall — shared some life lessons as the keynote speaker at the eighth annual Manheim Touchdown Club awards banquet.
“Winners set goals for themselves and reach beyond what they’re capable of, and you’ll never get better if you don’t,” the Virginia native told the captive audience in his smooth southern drawl.
“Winners are people of character,” he continued. “And you judge that on how they handle adversity. People of character are ‘we’ people, not ‘me’ people.”
Ross encouraged the student-athletes in the crowd to have the courage to do the right thing within their peer group, and to have the courage to say no to the wrong things.
“Always remember the three R’s,” he said. “Respect yourself. Respect authority. And take responsibility for your actions.”
For his actions on the football field last fall, Manheim Central senior Graham Zug — who is set to report to Penn State on June 25 as a preferred walk-on — was named the Lancaster-Lebanon League High School Player of the Year.
The 6-4, 185-pound first-team All-State pick beat out Manheim Township junior quarterback Pat Bostick — who gave a verbal commitment to the University of Pittsburgh last week — and Lebanon High senior two-way lineman Jared Odrick, a Penn State recruit, in balloting by local sportswriters and sportscasters.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Zug, who finished his standout career with 137 receptions for 2,282 yards and 33 touchdown catches on offense and 15 interceptions on defense.
Zug also helped Central win three L-L League Section 2 titles, three District 3 Triple-A championships and a state title in 2003.
“It really means a lot because Pat and Jared are great players, so it’s nice knowing that people believed in me,” Zug said. “It’s cool to be recognized.”
Grand Valley State junior defensive end Michael McFadden was also recognized Tuesday night.
The 6-1, 255-pound sack master was named the second recipient of the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award.
With 19 quarterback sacks and 83 tackles, McFadden led Grand Valley State to the Division II national championship last fall. He had at least one sack in every game last season, and he has 29 career sacks.
The Saginaw, Mich., native thanked his family members — who drove here from Michigan for the banquet — most notably his father, whom he called his role model.
Upshaw, who was the keynote speaker at the banquet last year, was not in attendance but sent along a note congratulating McFadden.
Wilson grad Chad Henne was a winner for the second year in a row in the Touchdown Club’s Division I/I-AA College Player of the Year category.
Michigan’s 6-2, 225-pound sophomore quarterback has passed for 5,269 yards and 48 touchdowns in two seasons as the Wolverines’ starter.
Henne’s dad, Sheldon, accepted the award for Chad, who is at Michigan taking classes. Wilson coach Jim Cantafio also spoke on Henne’s behalf.
Former Lebanon High standout Adam Brossman, a 6-0, 200-pound sophomore wideout at Lebanon Valley College, won Division II/Division III College Player of the Year honors.
He had 51 catches for 990 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall for the Flying Dutchmen.
Also Tuesday night, six Manheim Central student-athletes were presented scholarship awards, including Zug (football, basketball), Nicholas Brudowsky (track, cross country), Ben Eyer (track, cross country), Nate Mast (football, basketball, baseball), Jeff Ochoa (football, wrestling) and Emily Swarr (tennis, soccer).
“Everybody wants to be a winner,” Ross told that group and the rest of the student-athletes and coaches looking on.
“But what does it take to be a winner? Preparation. So prepare to win, and more importantly, have the determination to see it through.”
by Jeffrey Reinhart
New Era Sports Writer