http://www.news-herald.com/articles/201 ... =fullstory
[emphases mine]Most Influential: Paul Serra helped bring national tournament to Euclid
Published: Sunday, June 03, 2012
By Matthew Skrajner
The city of Euclid has a proud sports tradition, and Paul Serra is one of the biggest reasons the history is so great.
Serra, who graduated from Euclid High, began there as a sophomore in 1953.
After graduating from Kent State University, he played pro baseball in the New York Mets minor league system.
According to baseballreference.com, he hit for a .301 average and nine home runs in two seasons with the Auburn Mets.
Following his playing career, Serra became an assistant coach at Euclid High in 1972 and then head coach in 1977, while also being a teacher.
"It was a great experience," Serra said.
"My dream was to always coach at the high school."
Serra made multiple trips to the state championship game during his nearly 20-year tenure as coach.
"The ultimate was winning the state championship in 1982," Serra said.
"I wouldn't trade it for anything."
During his time as a teacher and coach, Serra witnessed how important sports are to some kids and said it would be devastating if the trend continues of eliminating sports because of budget cuts.
Serra said that for some kids, playing a sport is the only reason that they still go to school.
"It keeps them on the up and up, and keeps their grades up," he said.
Serra's reach also extends past the high school.
He was a member of the committee that helped bring the Continental Amateur Baseball Association tournament, featuring many of the best youth teams from North America, to Euclid more than 20 years ago.
The CABA tournament has spotlighted many future major leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez, now with the New York Yankees.
Serra continues to be heavily involved in Euclid sports as the sports director for the city Recreation Department, where he works to organize softball, baseball, volleyball, basketball and various other leagues throughout the year.
Serra also has sponsored teams in various baseball leagues throughout the years.
"It's just my way of giving back to the kids a little bit."
Additionally, Serra's name will be remembered in Euclid for years to come.
A few years ago, the city even renamed one of the high school diamonds as Serra Field.
"It was a great honor," Serra said. "I wouldn't have let them do it had I known about it."
I'm not trying to pick on Mr. Serra here, but it kind of strikes me as a sad commentary on the educational system if sports are the "only reason some kids go to school."
At least at my high school (back in the mid-to-late 1980s), sports weren't the victims of budget cuts -- academics were. New computer equipment, science clubs, classroom tools -- there was no money for these things, we were told, yet the baseball, football and basketball teams always had whatever they needed. And yet, the school district was constantly putting tax levies on the ballot -- which were usually rejected.
Also, they made a show of having "academic standards", yet in many of the basic and required courses (math, English, history, general science) the coursework was "dumbed down", graded on a steep curve, or laced with frivolous "extra credit" (one EC question on a junior high science test was about who won some basketball game the night before!) to make sure the athletes passed. (After all, can't have Mr. Quarterback ineligible for The Big Game due to some trivial matter like his grades, now can we?) So, I wouldn't say sports made the athletes keep their grades up -- seemed like just the opposite happened.
Thoughts or comments, anyone?