The communities of Stow and Munroe Falls gathered together in the high school gymnasium Friday night for an event that was very near and dear to their hearts: dedicating the gymnasium to Coach Tyree.
“It is an honor to name the gymnasium of Stow-Munroe Falls High School after a legend, Coach Tyree,” said Superintendent Dr. Russell Jones.
James “Coach” Tyree died on Feb. 12, 2011. Coach Tyree was a Stow resident since 1960, and he taught and coached for the school district for more than 33 years.
Jones said that he attended the memorial service held for Tyree at the Chapel in Akron.
“I had the privilege of going to the Chapel and listening to all the testimonials about the kind of the impact that he had on so many peoples lives in the Stow community,” he said. “It was so heart-warming hearing all the stories and the accolades of Coach Tyree.”
Jones said that he was absolutely inundated with phone calls and emails from students, athletes and the community asking that the high school gym be named after Coach Tyree.
The outpouring of support for Coach Tyree was overwhelming, said Jones.
Jones said that one of the things that impressed him the most was being approached by the former students of the beloved coach.
“The kids who were never athletes but experienced Coach Tyree as a teacher,” Jones said. “From teaching somebody how to tie their tie right or how to ask someone for a prom date, he was there for everybody.”
Jay Tyree, the son of Coach Tyree, was present at the ceremony to speak on behalf of his father.
Tyree said that it was a little bit difficult to speak. He spoke at his father’s funeral and now was speaking again for a man that he has a great deal of respect for in a moment of commemoration.
“I am speaking about a man who was not only a coach and a teacher, but was also my dad.”
Tyree said, “on behalf of my dad, my mom and the rest of my family, I would like to thank you for the tremendous honor of the recognition of my father.”
“The foundation of who my father was centered around the building of relationships. My father was an outstanding coach, husband and father. Our dad always had time for each of us and had special relationships with each of us."
Harley G. Lappin, a former student and athlete of Coach Tyree, said that his fondest memory of the coach was after he graduated and moved away from Stow.
“Years after I left Stow, I would call home to check on my parents, Harley and Becky Lappin. Often when I called Coach Tyree was at my house or had just left my house. He was checking on them too. I will be forever grateful to him for how much he cared about others.”
Lappin said Coach Tyree was the best mentor anyone could have in life.
“He is missed and will never be forgotten for the lessons he taught all of us.”
Linda Nickson, physical education teacher, said she first met Coach Tyree as a sophomore attending Stow High School.
“Jim always had a commanding presence,” she said. “I also knew him as a wrestling coach. As a high school cheerleader we would follow the team and I saw him as an excellent coach who was able to emit greatness form his athletes.”
Nickson said she also knew him as the head lifeguard at Renner’s Lake (Munroe Falls Metro Park) where she would swim as a teenager.
“Jim and I have some history even before we taught together," she said. “He was a great influence on my husband from the time he was a young man and he worked for Jim at Renner’s Park. Jim even attended our wedding prior to the start of my teaching career at Stow.”
Nickson said she was blessed to come teach at Stow High after completing her education at Kent State University.
“Jim was my teaching partner, my mentor and became one of my dearest friends.”
Their history continued, Nickson went to school with Tyree’s son and coached his youngest daughter in gymnastics.
“I think I had the best job in the world working with “Tiger,” my pet name for him, for 15 years. As I reflect back, Tiger still influences not only my professional life but has had such a great impact on my personal life.”
Athletic Director Cyle Feldman said that Coach Tyree was already a legend when he first started in high school in 1981.
“At that time, you knew who all of the great athletes and coaches were who played before you at Stow High School, and you tried to emulate their accomplishments and work ethic. Coach Tyree was the best.”
Feldman said he also knew the coach from Renner's Lake.
“We observed how so many people respected him, and how many of the great athletes worked for him, and were always around him,” Feldman said.
Feldman said that his fondest memory of the coach was at Sunday night alumni open gym, where alumni played speedball first and then basketball.
“All of the alumni showed up, and Coach Tyree organized the whole thing. Those were some great times, where you were around Coach Tyree and some other great Stow High School teachers and athletes,” Feldman said.
Feldman said one Sunday night he was “acting a little arrogant, and the coach and Harley Lappin gave him a quick lesson in respect and humility.”
Feldman said Coach Tyree’s legacy is “one of hard work, humility and treating people the right way, and with dignity and respect.”
“He was a great athlete, student, teacher, father, and friend who would give you anything he had, literally the shirt off his back,” Feldman said.