Beloved Okemos Coach Dies

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Beloved Okemos Coach Dies

G Sambaer, Staff Reporter

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Thursday, Feb. 23, in Winter Haven, Florida, the Okemos community lost a beloved member.

Jon Wozniak began at Okemos in 1986 as a coach and teacher. He retired from teaching in the late 90s, but continued to coach shotput and discus for the track and field team.

Wozniak, also known as Coach Woz, had a very successful coaching career at Okemos. He captured numerous championships at the conference, regional and state level, including in 2002, when he coached both the boys’ and girls’ discus state champions.

Many students that he worked with while at OHS will remember him fondly.

Wozniak coached Charles Arrington (11) during his freshman and sophomore years. Arrington, along with his throwing teammates, found out the next morning about his passing.

“Everybody on the team knew he was not doing well, but being with him at practice, you couldn’t tell,” Arrington said.

“His enthusiasm and the way he was showed no weakness, no signs of giving in.”

Brian Harrod (CTE) coached alongside Wozniak for 15 years. He said that everyone will miss his fishing stories and his love for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

“I considered him to be a great friend and mentor,” Harrod said.

“What I admired most about him was his ability to see potential in everyone.”

Arrington not only mentioned what a good coach he was, but also what a great man he was.

“A man of that caliber is rare nowadays and he will be missed,” Arrington said.

“The amount of lives he has touched and changed for the better are uncountable.”

Harrod also credited the way Coach Wozniak grew the student-athletes he worked with.

“I believe his athletes not only became better throwers, but also they became better people because of the relationship they had with Woz,” Harrod said.

Wozniak graduated from Toledo St. Francis High School in Ohio where he played football, baseball, basketball and track. He went from high school to the University of Toledo to play football on a full ride scholarship. His football career came to an unfortunate end when he suffered a severe head injury in his last preseason game after signing a contract with the Dallas Cowboys out of college.

Wozniak then moved back to teach and coach at his alma mater, Toledo St. Francis, before moving to Michigan. In Michigan he coached multiple sports at Stockbridge High School he started at Okemos.

Wozniak was survived by both his wife, Carol, and his son, Andrew. They will plan a memorial service to honor him that will take place sometime this spring.

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