Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Ten Phoenix players have earned the letter O on the back of their helmets for showing leadership on and off the field: Sam Wilson, Jonathon Rosa, Malik Aguiniga, Kobe Fields, Morality Anderson, Jared Fidler, Journey Toole, Elijah Bugg, David Payne, and Mark Robinson.
Ten Phoenix football players have earned a letter O on the back of their helmets for their outstanding performance on and off the field.
Oberlin head coach Michael Law said he wanted to find a way to recognize those players practicing the correct way, getting good grades, community involvement, and making an impact during a game.
“It’s not necessarily going down and scoring five touchdowns on a Friday that earns you an O,” he said.
Each senior, three juniors, and a sophomore have all earned an O so far this year.
The idea came when Law saw other high school and college teams such as the Ohio State University Buckeyes, which give their players a sticker each time a player makes a difference for their team.
Two Phoenix players earned O’s after the first week of the regular season.
“We lost the second week but had a lot more guys who stepped up and filled those roles,” Law said of the way players are becoming leaders. “I think it’s important for us to find successes in individual kids and our team when they might not be as obvious as the win-loss column.”
He believes the fact that each senior has earned an O speaks volumes of the team’s character.
Senior Elijah Bugg said he helped Law come up with the idea to use the O’s to recognize individual players.
“I kind of felt like it symbolizes people who have bought in,” he said. “Anybody can earn it.”
Journey Toole said he was hungry for an O as soon as Law introduced the idea. The O symbolizes leadership and someone who’s devoted to the game and the team, he said.
Defensive tackle Jared Fidler is the only sophomore so far who has earned an O and was shocked when Law told him he earned it.
He said at the beginning of the season he was unsure about how players would respond to this new idea but now he sees how important it is: “I see the freshmen looking up to those guys who do have it,” Law said.
The second-year head coach is looking to the players with O’s to help develop the other players and take the team to the next level.
“When everyone is on the same page is when Oberlin will be really successful,” he said.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.