Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation

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Kenneth Green

By CHRIS LARICK


Kenneth Green was the captain or co-captain of three athletic teams when he was at Grand Valley as a senior in 1968-69. But he was not faster than a speeding bullet.

However, Green now does demonstrate and sell cameras that can stop that speeding bullet in mid-air. 

Just a couple of years behind Grand Valley stars like Tom Henson and Ron Chutas, Green stood out in basketball, football and baseball for the Mustangs. He began his basketball career when one of his teachers, Russ Johnson, put together sixth-grade team (the first-ever in Orwell, according to what Green has been told) that played squads from Rome, Windsor and Colebrook. 

He moved on to the Grand Valley Junior High team, again coached by Johnson, where he played with Dan Nick, Bill Huntington, Don Hendershott, Rick Marrko, Bob Kassay, Dave Fulop, Bill Puffenbarger, Larry Richman, Phil Mason, Glen Gladding and Vince Doll. 

When he became a freshman, Grand Valley formed its first freshman team ever.

"Back then freshmen couldn't play varsity basketball," Green said. "That was back in 1965. We had a 3-3 record. Though it was a freshman team, there were freshmen and sophomores on the team."

As a sophomore, Green didn't start, but was the first player off the bench, a guard who was only about 5-foot-7 at that time. Chutas, then a senior, was the team's leading scorer. Keith Steare, Gary Gadley and Fred Stuble also started.

Bill Young was the Mustangs' coach when Green was a sophomore and junior. Fred Stetler took over the head coaching job when Green was a senior. Among his teammates then were Bob Yeager, Bill Huntington, Tom Zakowski and Jeff Pizon, then a junior. Huntington, an outstanding track athlete, would go on to West Virginia University and later became a Hall of Fame track coach. Zakowski was an all-state fullback who led the county in scoring as a senior with 158 points. He went on to play at West Virginia under famed coach Bobby Bowden. Pizon became a long-time basketball, football and track coach at Geneva. 

Other players on that team included Harry Peck, Tom Ahola and Bill Burkhart.

Green hit his stride as a junior, scoring 24 points a game.

"Bob Yeager and I were co-captains," Green said. "He still lives in Orwell and is still one of my closest friends."

Huntington settled in Akron, while Zakowski now resides in the Marietta area.

In Green's senior year, he, Yeager, Pizon, Henry Peck and Tim Henson (Jim and Tom's younger brother) started. Walter Coleman, a natural athlete who rushed for 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns and was an outstanding track athlete, transferred in and came off the bench. Tim Henson was the same age as Green's younger brother, Russ.

The Mustangs went 10-8 in the regular season of Green's senior year of 1968-69. They beat Lutheran East in the tournament, but fell to Berkshire in the sectional finals, according to Green.

In addition to his skill in basketball, Green was also a star in football and baseball. He played wide receiver on the Mustangs gridiron squad, well enough to make all-state honorable mention.

Green reaped several awards in his athletic career at Grand Valley. He earned three letters in basketball, scoring 823 points. He was first-team all-county his junior year and first-team All-Great Lakes Conference and all-county, along with honorable mention all-state as a senior in that sport after averaging 19.3 points per game as a senior. He had regular-season games of 31 and 32 points and scored 37 against Newbury in the sectionals, where he was selected all-tournament.

 In football he was honorable mention all-county and All-Great Lakes Conference as a junior and first-team all-county, second team All-North East Lake District and honorable mention all-state as a senior.

"I played against (Edgewood's) Gary Lago that year. He became the punter at Ohio State. He just ran me over, put a cleat mark right on my chest."

 As a baseball player, he was an infielder and co-captain with Zakowski.

"My game was speed and finesse," Green said. "Tom hit the ball hard. Our baseball team went to regionals at Bridgeport. Our coach was Vince Pelligrini, a great coach. 

"I think I led the county in hitting that year."

 He ranks as just one of three Grand Valley male alumni who have been selected first-team all-county in three sports (football, basketball and baseball) in the same year.

The 1968-69 all-county team was an impressive one, consisting of Green, St. John's John Wheelock, Conneaut's Scott Humphrey, Ashtabula's Jim Hood (a sophomore that year) and Harbor's Roger Goudy on the first team. 

After graduation, Green wanted to go to Wittenberg to play basketball. He was recruited there, but that school wouldn't give him financial aid, so he headed to Muskingum, which could give him some financial help, to play basketball and baseball.

"I played freshman basketball, but I ended up starting four years as a third baseman. I led the team in batting my junior year, hitting .320 or so."

The Fighting Muskies were in the Ohio Conference and had to bump heads against Marietta, one of the top teams in the country in Division III. 

"We were competitive with them, but lost," Green said.

Green majored in math at Muskingum, but had no intention of becoming an actuary or teacher.

"I wanted something more flexible and interesting," he said. "I went into sales."

Union Carbide hired Green right out of college. When Union Carbide moved east in 1975, Green took a job with Owens-Corning Fiberglas at Cincinnati, then Albany before moving to Connecticut where he now lives.

"I was with Union Carbide in Cincinnati in 1973, 1974 and 1975," he said. "Nineteen-seventy-five was the year of the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine, with guys like Johnny Bench, Peter Rose and Dave Concepcion. That was a fun time in Cincinnati.

"I've continued in sports, playing basketball in several leagues and playing softball and flag football. I've stayed very active in (sports) for a long time."

After his time with Union Carbide, Green was self-employed for about 10 years as a graphics designer.

Recently Green worked for a company involved with NASCAR and Indy Car racing with sponsors like STP, represented by Richard Petty and Mario Andretti. He met his wife, Kim, at Daytona while working for STP in 1991 and they married in 1995.

Kim has had struggles with breast cancer and other health-related problems over the past 18 years.

For the past 10 years he has worked for Del Imaging Systems, selling high-speed cameras.

"Our cameras can stop a bullet in mid-air or catch the image of a car-crash dummy's face moving. We are involved in highway safety and sell to the military. Our latest project is with the Orion Project which is trying to send people to Mars. They need a rugged camera which will catch parachutes deploying in slow motion."

The Greens have two children: daughter Tessa, a junior at Villanova; and son Torrie, a senior in high school in Connecticut. Kim is a breast cancer survivor and has had other health problems.