|The Ithaca Promotional Committee gives the Ithaca Person of the Year Award to someone whose efforts have served the Ithaca community through his or her leadership, volunteerism, and community service and has worked with civic organizations and other groups to improve the quality of life for its citizens.
This year's recipient is Terry Hessbrook. He attended Ashley Public Schools through fourth grade and Ithaca Public Schools until his graduation in 1985. Terry graduated in 1989 from Olivet College with a degree in education. He did his student teaching in Ithaca with Jack McWilliams and Rob Boden.
Terry attended Oliver College and was on the football team. Glen Stevenson was his coach, who had so much respect for Terry, that he allowed him to date his daughter Kristy, a senior in high school. Kristy and Terry were married in 1992. Kristy teaches at Ithaca South Elementary. Their daughter Kelsey is a freshman at Central Michigan University and their son Brady is a freshman at Ithaca High School.
Terry's first job was at the Ithaca Community Education's Alternative High School for the 1989-90 and 1990-91 school years. His next job was at Montabella Public Schools where he taught alternative education and was head football coach for four years with a record of two wins and forty-three losses. He was laid off and was hired at Ithaca to teach alternative education, physical education, and assist Jim Ahern in varsity football. He became head football coach in 2004. Terry is now assistant principal and athletic director along with being head football coach.
As an alternative education teacher, he welcomed students making them feel safe and cared for while holding them accountable for school assignments, attendance, and behavior. Most of these young men and women remembered the help they were given, and their children have been respectful and successful students who graduate.
Ithaca has had a youth football program for 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades for several years. When Terry became head coach he met with the youth football coaches and asked them to use the same system he used for the varsity team. He gave the coaches a limited playbook. Players became familiar and comfortable with the plays, which prepares them when they get to high school. Since youth football has been added for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades, Terry has met with the youth coaches. They also use the same system with a limited playbook.
Wanting his football players to play as a team, he started a different program setting eight goals for the week. If the goals were met every player got a pride sticker for his helmet. The old way saw only the top players getting stickers. The players received a tee shirt with the word team, in large capital letters, and the word me, in small lower case letters. Every players feels important and part of the team.
Terry started the Blue and Gold Athletic Club for all sports (boys and girls) at Ithaca High School. The Blue and Gold Club provides for things not in the school's budget. The club pays for camps, training, speakers, equipment, and two $500 scholarships each spring, one for a boy and one for a girl.
As Athletic Director, he has helped boys and girls get scholarships for college. He checks grades every week for eligibility, and talks with each student and arranges for tutoring when needed.
Since 2010 Terry's football team has won five, division 6 state titles and been runner up twice. In 2016 the team was regional finalist in division 5. He has been offered jobs elsewhere, but remains committed to Ithaca. Terry likes the school system and the attitude of the citizens.
Ithaca's football team with its winning ways has made Ithaca well known throughout the state. With attendance between 2,000 to 3,000, fans come early to the stadium. It has given many people from Ithaca a great sense of pride in their community.
Terry is well respected by other coaches. In 2016 he was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame. When interviewed he gives credit to his assistants and even his players.
I am proud to introduce Terry Hessbrook, Ithaca's Person of the Year.