Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame
Ashland County Sports
Hall of Fame

Michael WarbelMichael J. Warbel: 

Mike Warbel was born at Fort Dix, New Jersey on May 19, 1949, to parents Mike and Bobbie Warbel. In 1952, the Warbels settled in Amsterdam, Ohio where Mike spent his childhood. Mike graduated from Springfield Local High School in 1967. He attended Mount Union College, graduating in 1971 with a degree in Political Science. In 1986, he earned a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from Ashland University.
From a young age Mike was immersed in athletics. At Springfield High School he earned 12 varsity letters in football, wrestling, track and baseball. At Mount Union, Mike earned four varsity letters in football and three in wrestling. Mike was fortunate to start his second varsity football game as the right offensive tackle. That began a streak of 36 straight starts, a record that stood for nearly a decade at Mount Union. As a senior, Mike was a captain of the 9-1 Purple Raiders football team, the best record in Mount Union history to that point. Mike was named to the All-Ohio Athletic Conference first team during his junior and senior seasons. Also, Mike was the captain of Mount Union's 14-2 wrestling team, the best in school history to that point in time. That season Mike amassed a record 17-5-1 as a heavyweight.

Following graduation Mike started his career in 1971 at East Palestine High School. He served as government teacher, assistant football coach and head wrestling coach. There he started the wrestling team from scratch, where the kids thought that they would wear capes and dive from the top of the ropes.
The following year he was named the head football coach at Cadiz High School, leading the Cardinals to a 5-5 record. For a variety of reasons he labeled himself the youngest, dumbest head coach in Ohio. Again, Mike suffered through the process of starting the first wrestling team ever at Cadiz.

In the spring of 1973, Mike was offered a coveted position as an assistant coach at Steubenville High, the premier football program in the Ohio Valley. There, as the varsity offensive line coach he learned more about coaching than he could have ever imagined. He was immersed in a program that expected one to study every facet of the game. Coaching became a science. Within a year Mike knew every step expected of every player on every play in the Steubenville playbook. In order to implement Big Red game plans he learned the fundamentals of every defense they faced. After two years in the program he understood that if a coach expected a player to do something during a game, that coach had better teach those players everything that they were expected to do right down to the smallest detail. Then, under intense conditions, those steps had to be practice to perfection.

During the Steubenville stint, Mike was also the head wrestling coach. He inherited a veteran team. They went undefeated in dual meets, won several invitational tourneys, and then dominated the Eastern Ohio District AA tournament, qualifying seven wrestlers for the State Tournament.

In 1975, Mike again felt the urge to become a head football coach. In May, he was offered the opportunity to assume the position at Loudonville High School. It was the perfect match Mike implemented a program based on extreme conditioning, Spartan discipline, intense practices, selflessness, and a constant struggle for perfection. The hard working communities of Loudonville and Perrysville bought into the system, supporting everything that was Redbird football. The 1975 Redbirds, against formidable competition, went 10-0 in the Johnny Appleseed conference. Fierce rivalries against West Holmes, Lexington, and Clearfork were in place. With the full confidence, and support of the school administration and the community, Mike began to add major tests to the schedule. Mike preached constantly that his players should be given the opportunity to face the most challenging schedule possible. Despite the grueling caliber of the competition, Redbird teams enjoyed immense success. The 1978 season saw the Redbirds again achieve a 10-0 season. During the span from 1978 through 1984, facing what was arguably the most rigorous schedule in the area; the Redbirds went 53 and 17. The Redbirds managed three league championships and their first Regional Championship.

Mike left coaching during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. He returned in 1987. His teams won Regional Championships in 1988 and 1990. The 1990 team finished 13-1, losing only the State Championship. Mike continued at the helm of the Redbird program through the 1998 season. When all was said and done, Mike had led the Redbirds to a twenty-two year total of 151-75-2. Mike was named the Times-Gazette Coach of the year six times. To this day Mike believes that coaching the Redbird football program is one of the greatest opportunities in Ohio. Mike believes that the greatest accomplishment of his era of Redbird football was to play a role as a part of a great school system in the maturation of his players. Blessed with dedicated teachers, inspired coaches, exceptional community support, and great parenting, Loudonville developed young men who have become responsible citizens leading fulfilling lives through meaningful work.
During his career at LHS, Mike served stints as the head coach in track and girls basketball. His 1978-79 girls basketball team won the Johnny Appleseed Conference championship. His 1981 track team was one of the finest in the area winning the MOC Championship and qualifying four participants in the State Track Meet, with three of them placing.

Mike taught various social studies, health, and physical education classes. In 1988 he assumed the role of high school assistant principal, a position he held until 1999. He then accepted the principals position at East Knox High School. A year later he became superintendent of the district. In 2002, Mike moved to the position of assistant director at the Knox County Career Center where he remained until his retirement in 2011, culminating a forty year career as an educator.

Mike and his wife Sally continue to live in Loudonville. They have four children. Mike, an attorney, his wife Mandy , and their four sons reside in Springfield, Virginia. Nick a pastor and accountant, lives in Polk, Nebraska. Amy a physical therapist, her husband Bill and two sons reside in Richmond Heights, Ohio. Mary an assistant rugby coach at Notre Dame College, lives in Cleveland. Mike appreciates greatly the sacrifices his family made in order that he could coach. Also, he knows very well that they too, love Redbird football.


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