2006 "Penguin of the Year": Football Alumni Group

One of the most active behind-the-scenes groups that supports Youngstown State Athletics is the Football Alumni Organization. For their efforts, the ever-growing and enthusiastic group was honored as the 2006 Penguins of the Year.

Involved in its current fashion, the Football Alumni Group, which is a part of the Youngstown State Penguin Club, has helped the football program and athletic department in numerous ways.

Whether its video equipment, scholarships, computers or just donating services and time, the group has worked diligently to keep the heritage of Penguin football alive and well for both the current players and the past greats that number over 1,300.

This organization's philosophy is to help the university that helped them not only with an education, but allowed them to play the sport they all enjoyed. Most of all, to not forget how the great sport of football changed their lives through the networking of many people, developing those relationships into great friendships and harvesting many great memories that a lot of former players still cherish today.

In recent years the Football Alumni has stepped up time and time again.

In 2003, the group created a scholarship endowment which is given annually to a football player who exhibits athletic ability and personal qualities that reflects community concern and involvement. To date, more than $130,000 has been contributed to their scholarship endowment.

A reunion event started about 10 years ago and has steadily grown since that time.

The reunion weekend, which is held each spring, begins with its annual Spaghetti Dinner. The Spaghetti Dinner was part of YSU's football heritage dating back to the early days of the program. It also allows a chance for players of all generations to reminisce with friends, former teammates, recent graduates and coaches to rekindle the proud past of the program. The festivities for the group include a round of golf at Oak Tree Country Club in West Middlesex, Pa., followed by a dinner.

In the summer, the Football Alumni have gathered for a Bocce Tournament in Youngstown at Cassese’s MVR. The summer event allows for a laid-back outing that allows non-Football players to get involved with the group.

Once the season has started, the Football Alumni hold a “Tailgate Blast” Party prior to a Penguin football home game. This gives the former Guins and their families a chance to get together before, during and after contests to discuss the current team.

Beginning with the 2005 campaign, the group has established an award that will be presented following each Homecoming Contest. The Player Who Makes the Difference in the Homecoming Game receives a plaque from organization at the annual football banquet.

Currently, there are more than 100 members who are part of the Football Alumni group.

Founded in the mid-1980's on their own to hold Homecoming dinners and various other get-togethers, the group has become extremely active since becoming a part of the Penguin Club.

The core founders of the organization are Frank Beck (1953-55), Ray Briya (1965-67), Tony Clemente (1951), John DeMas (1952-54), Pat Gmiter (1952-53), Ned Mervos (1950-53), Don McCloud (1951-53), Angelo Pezzuolo (1951-54) and Jim Verlotte (1951-53).

A main goal of the organization is to try and have all former 1,000-plus YSU football players become a member.

For more information on the Football Alumni Club contact Tom Morella in the YSU Athletic Department at (330) 941-2351.