Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation

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STEVE CARLSON

Carlson has fond memories of Edgewood

By CHRIS LARICK

Deafening silence?

That’s one of the great memories Steve Carlson has of his basketball days at Edgewood High School.

Carlson, who graduated from Edgewood in 1986 remembers the great crowds that saw basketball games in the Warrior gymnasium.

“I remember several times the crowd was so loud that you could hear a pin drop, it was so deafening” he said. “That was a highlight for me. I just loved that place. I have a lot of good memories of the people at Edgewood.”

Carlson, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on Apr. 2, played alongside teammates Ryan Chandler, Fred Galle, Gary Goode, Kurt Kalinowski, J.T. Kanicki, Todd Hjerpe, Gerald McMahon and his cousin, Aaron Emery at times during his high-school career.

“I think we did well,” he said. "I remember our senior year we played Riverside at home for a chance to share the (NEC) championship. I feel we had pretty good teams during my sophomore and junior years. Fred was our big guy in the middle. Ryan was a very good ballhandler and playmaker. We focused on defense.”

At the time the Warriors’ head coach was Al Goodwin.

“He was tremendous,” Carlson said. “I loved playing for the man. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. We’d come in, get our work done, work hard and get out of the gym. He made you understand your role. He loved his players and we all believed in the system, defense first. It was a good experience.”

A forward, Carlson was usually assigned to play in the low post, though occasionally he moved out to the wing.

“On defense I played all over in the 3-2 zone, sometimes the top, sometimes the wing, and in the trenches too,” he said. “I was pretty versatile.”

The year he graduated, 1986, was the final year before the three-point shot became legal in Ohio high schools, so there was no real incentive to shoot from outside.

“We ran a pretty simple kind of offense,” Carlson recalls. “It was the kind of offense that was predicated on getting a high-percentage shot. We’d pound it in low most of the time.”

Carlson, who was 6-5, 155 at the time (“all skin and bone,” as he puts it) remembers once being assigned to defend Geneva’s Richie DeJesus, a quick little guard.

“He was so fast and quick that he was tough to guard,” Carlson said. “We had trouble getting the ball over half-court. I had to back him down to do it, then get the ball to someone else to start our offense. It was a good thing there was no shot clock.”

That season Carlson and DeJesus were Co-Players of the Year in the NEC as Carlson remembers.

In addition to basketball, Carlson was the top player on the Warriors’ golf team.

“My freshman year we weren’t that good,” he recalls. “We just hadn’t played enough. By my senior year we just missed going to state as a team. I was the number one golfer and the number two was often shared between my cousin, Aaron Emory, and Ernie Niemi. Tim Essig, who coached JV basketball for Al (Goodwin) was the golf coach. When Aaron and Ernie became seniors, Edgewood did go to state.”

After graduating from Edgewood, Carlson moved on to Grove City College (Pa.) to play basketball under John Barr, who was rumored to have played basketball on the 1960 Ohio State team with Bobby Knight. 

"I don't think Coach Barr actually played for Ohio State but he certainly had a similar coaching mentality as Bobby Knight.” Carlson said.

 Carlson started every game his freshman year, averaging 8.6 points a game for the Wolverines and shooting 56 percent from three-point range. 

He injured an ankle his sophomore year and sat out several games, never regaining his starting position that season. He also sat out his junior year, but returned for his senior season.

That was a successful season for him, as he averaged 11.7 points per game and earned second-team all-conference honors. The Wolverines, meanwhile, won the conference championship outright.

“I don’t recall honestly being upset by not starting (my sophomore year following the ankle injury) because I knew I was a valuable part of the team and team success is what mattered,” he said.

“For a long time I had the team record for three-pointers. I had one game where I was six-for-six from three-point land. That was the highest percentage of three-point shots made in a game. As of the last couple of years that record was still standing.Somebody has probably surpassed it by now.  I worked hard on my outside shot.  I got a lot of good looks from the top of the key playing the trailing forward in the transition game.”

At Grove City Carlson majored in Communications and Psychology. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he moved on to Slippery Rock State University in Pennsylvania to get a master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration. 

His first job after getting his master’s was at the University of New Orleans, where he spent three years. He moved back north then, obtaining a job at Ball State.

He has worked in higher education for 25 years, 19 of them as a career counselor. For the past six years he has worked as the registrar at Grace College in northern Indiana, a liberal arts school of 2,300 students.

He met his wife, Amy, at Grove City. 

“I found a good one,” he said.

 The couple has been married 25 years now. They have two children: a son, Grant, 21, who will be graduating from college this May; and a daughter, Jodie, 20, a sophomore at Geneva College, near Pittsburgh.

“I had a great time playing for Edgewood, with some terrific friends and teammates, and for Al (Goodwin),” Carlson said. “We played a pretty solid 3-2 defense and tried to keep games in the 40s (in points) if we could. The crowds were great. Those times were a lot of fun.”