WESTLAKE — Longtime Gazette Assistant Sports Editor Rick Noland was named Ohio High School Sportswriter of the Year by the Northeast Ohio chapter of the National Football Foundation.
Noland, who began working at The Gazette in December 1983, was honored Tuesday during festivities at the LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility.
Wadsworth quarterback Joey Baughman, the first Medina County player to be named Mr. Football, and Highland linebacker Ethan Gerding, an All-Gazette selection, were among 22 high school players to receive scholar-athlete awards.
The sportswriter of the year award, given annually since 2011, was originated in honor of former Plain Dealer reporters Chuck Heaton, Bill Nichols and Dick Zunt.
Previous winners have included the PD’s Dan Coughlin, Tim Rogers, Don Friedman and Eddie Dwyer, Sun Newspapers’ Peter Gaughan, The Canton Repository’s Bob Stewart, ESPN 990-AM’s Ray Jeske and The News Herald’s John Kampf.
Noland, a member of the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame, has won 221 writing awards while at The Gazette. He has been named OPSWA Writer of the Year on nine occasions and has earned Best Sports Writer in Ohio honors from The Associated Press on six occasions.
The 56-year-old also has been recognized nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors on four occasions, including first place in the game story category in 2003.
The banquet, which included an entertaining fireside chat between emcee Jim Mueller, Browns radio analyst Doug Dieken and offensive tackle Joe Thomas, was highlighted by Bob DiBiasio, the Indians’ senior vice president of public affairs, receiving the Dino Lucarelli Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mount Union’s Vince Kehres, who led the Purple Raiders to a Division III national championship, received the Lee Tressel Ohio College Coach of the Year Award.