His Life, Times and Teachings."
The year 1951 forever changed Ohio State.
One simple, but complex man became the OSU football coach. Woody Hayes refused to stop short of perfection and he led his team, students and devoted Buckeye fans to history. Today, the legacy of the coach has inspired a former faculty member to take his story to the stage.
“When I was teaching at OSU back in the 80s, I asked my class, ‘Who was Woody Hayes?'” said Walter Adamkosky, director of the play, “Woody: His Life, Times and Teachings.” “I knew we had a big problem when the only response was ‘Didn’t he hit some guy?’
“On that day, I began to write a one-man play to tell of Woody Hayes’ life, love of learning and paying it forward at the place he called home, Ohio State,” Adamkosky said.
From that day forward, Adamkosky wanted to tell the personal story of coach Woody Hayes from the coach’s perspective. His purpose was to explain the meaning behind Hayes’ unusual teaching methods and the never-ending love for his Buckeye family.
Adamkosky held auditions for his one-man play in January. He said he couldn’t believe it when someone looking exactly like Hayes walked through the door with his whistle, black-framed glasses and that memorable, black wool Ohio State cap.
“When Jeff Hall walked into the auditions, you could see the hope deflate right out of the rest of the actors,” Adamkosky said. “It was Woody, and we asked ourselves, ‘Need we go any further?'”
Hall came to audition for the part, not only because he resembled the coach, but more importantly, he knew that he wanted to learn how Hayes came to be a legend. Hall saw the opportunity to immortalize Hayes, not only for the people who bleed scarlet and gray, but for children and adults around the world.
During Hayes’ coaching career, Hall was fortunate to attend a game coached by the man himself. That day left a lasting mark on Hall that would allow him to understand his role in portraying Hayes on a deeper level.
“The pageantry in the stadium stuck with me and from that game on. I forever became a fan,” Hall said. “The people, then and now, serve as a visible reminder of the love they had for him, this life teacher for his men, students and the game of football.”
Throughout the rehearsals, Adamkosky and Hall worked tirelessly to ensure that Hayes’ values and memories are illustrated as true to life as possible. They believe the play is a 3-D portrait of the coach, and involves personal accounts from the entire football team. The majority of the script is in Hayes’ own words from the personal accounts.
Both Adamkosky and Hall hope that the play continues after the last curtain falls.
Adamkosky has several ideas about the next steps for his show, including presenting it overseas for the troops, alumni around the world and possibly adding it to the OSU freshman orientation.
“Woody is the director of his show,” Adamkosky said. “We knew we had done it after previews, when one man made the comment, ‘Thanks for letting me talk with my friend.'”
“Woody: His Life, Times, and Teachings” will be presented at the Ohio Theatre from Sept. 23-25. For tickets, call the Ohio Theatre Box Office at 614-469-0939 or visit ticketmaster.com.