Professional Athletes Much Closer Than You Think

Newarks own Derek Holland of the MLBs Texas Rangers.

Newark’s own Derek Holland of the MLB’s Texas Rangers.

Kyle Zies

BY KYLE ZIES (’16)

Scrolling through Twitter or any other social media outlet, people of Licking County tend to bash their homeland left and right. While watching “SportsCenter” nobody sees anybody that hails from the area making the news. Or do they?

Maybe not at the forefront of the American sports mind, but multiple people from the Licking County area have a history of doing big things or contributing to big things on the professional sports scene. In 1990, Columbus’ own Buster Douglas stunned Mike Tyson in the Tokyo Dome to win the undisputed heavyweight title. Douglas now resides in Utica, Ohio, but since he was born and raised in Columbus, he is not included in this list.

In this list of pro athletes of Licking County some may ring a bell, and some may solely be in the background of something great. Either way, everybody included on this list has made their mark on Licking County and elevated their talents to the professional sports level.

Derek Holland: Pitcher, Texas Rangers

Holland may be the most well-known on this list as he has made his way into the starting rotation of the Texas Rangers, of the MLB, when healthy. Holland, 29, is a native of Newark who attended Newark High School before playing at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama where he was selected in the 25th round of the MLB Draft in 2006. Holland quickly shot up the prospect chart and quickly became the number two ranked prospect according to Baseball America in 2009. The same year Holland made his MLB debut pitching 2 1/3 innings and later started his first complete game with a 7-0 shutout over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Holland now earns an annual contract of $7.4 million and is regarded as one of the best left handed pitchers in all of baseball. Derek Holland is indeed one that is seen on “SportsCenter” quite often and deservingly so. In the offseason, Holland can still be found around the Licking County area as his family still resides in Newark.

Josh Boyer: Cornerbacks Coach, New England Patriots

Out of Heath High School, Josh Boyer is in a position any football coach would kill for. That being, the chance to coach under perhaps the greatest coach in the National Football League, Bill Belichick. Boyers’ father, Jeff, was a longtime teacher and coach at Licking Heights and defensive coordinator for Newark Catholic’s state championship in 2007. Josh was Licking Heights’ ball boy for his father in the 1980s. Boyer played at Muskingum University following his Heath career and then quickly joined the coaching field with stints at King’s College, Dayton, Kent State, Bryant, and South Dakota School of Mines before joining the New England Patriots staff in 2006.

In an interview given with ESPN in 2013 Boyer stated his desire to get into coaching was “pretty much a given; that’s always been what I was going to do. I just followed the path of playing to coaching. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the game.”

Boyer, 39, still has family in the Licking County area as his sister and brother-in-law have recently bought a house in the Heath school district. In the coaching world, Boyer is still relatively young and learning from one of the masterminds of all of football. He is climbing his way up the coaches’ ladder and is a name to keep an eye on for future years as he is an integral part to the championship puzzle that has earned him a Super Bowl Ring with his time in New England.

Todd Londot: Former Center, New York Giants

For the past fifteen years, the Londot family has ruled the sports scene at Utica High School. Todd Londot, a 2001 graduate of Utica, attended Miami University (OH) and played center for the team. At center, Londot had the honor of playing with current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004 and one year later Londot signed with the New York Giants.

“Todd is a fierce competitor,” said brother Ted Londot who is currently the head coach at Utica. “He earned everything he worked for.”

Londot was a member of the New York Giants practice squad until 2008, seeing preseason action. In 2008, the New York Giants pulled off perhaps the greatest upset in NFL history by defeating the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Needless to say, Londot now owns a Super Bowl ring for being a part of the team.

Londot, 33, had a brief stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League but did not remain with the team through the season due to injury. Currently, Londot is the owner of Crispin Iron and Metal Company, LLC located in Newark. The Londot brothers also host an annual Londot Football Camp that teaches the fundamentals of football to children in the Licking County area.

Shane Montgomery: Offensive Coordinator, Youngstown State University

In 1985, Shane Montgomery graduated from Newark Catholic High School where he was the quarterback of two state championship teams. Montgomery then played quarterback at North Carolina State University where in 1989 he passed for 535 yards against Duke, which is still a school record. He was also named MVP in the 1988 Peach Bowl and 1989 Copper Bowl.

Montgomery then entered the coaching world as an assistant at NC State in 1991 and Chattanooga from 1993-2000. At Chattanooga, Montgomery coached future NFL Hall-of-Famer Terrell Owens. His great work at Chattanooga landed him a job at Miami University (OH) where he was the offensive coordinator from 2001-2004. In that time, Montgomery coached Ben Roethlisberger and the above mentioned, Todd Londot.

In 2005 Montgomery received his first head coaching job as he took over the reins from Terry Hoeppner at Miami. His four years as a head coach were less than impressive by only compiling 17 wins in that time. On November 29, 2008, Montgomery resigned as the head coach of Miami.

“It’s not the way I wanted it to end,” said Montgomery in an interview in 2012, speaking about his time at Miami. “But if you’re in coaching long enough, things like that happen. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself because I realized I’m not the only coach that’s ever been fired, and I’m not going to be the last. Some things happen like that for a reason.”

After a year as the offensive coordinator of Akron University, Montgomery is now the offensive coordinator at Youngstown State University under former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini and YSU President, Jim Tressel.

Josh Hendershot: Former Tackle, Carolina Panthers

Today, Josh Hendershot can be found almost daily working as a trainer at TAD Sports. He also can be seen on the sidelines coaching his old high school team, Newark Catholic in the fall. Hendershot has not forgotten where he came from and want made him who he is.

“I like to think that I’ve worked hard throughout my playing years,” Hendershot said. “I know everything happens for a reason.”

Hendershot was always considered undersized for his position. NFL scouts wrote him off for his small stature compared to the 330lb lineman across the league. But, that never stopped Hendershot from chasing his dream and being able to practice with the Carolina Panthers during their rookie mini-camp. He’s only 25 years old and perhaps we haven’t heard the last of Josh Hendershot, who still has aspirations to coach at the next level.

“I would never rule out the possibility of coaching at the college level,” he said. “But right now, my focus is here and at NC.”

It is completely natural to undervalue what you hold close to you. The same goes for these sports figures who grew up and live in our very own backyards. These few men have scratched and clawed their ways to where they are today and have all had, if even brief, a taste of success at the professional level.