Special to #SpanningtheNeed (Part 3 of 3)
“Gary was one of the big supporters of all high school sports. He was a dedicated person who wanted to see all high schools and individuals do well and succeed,” Balash noted. “Although he might not have known everyone by name, he eventually did get to know them. He was part of our high school football preview show, was a self-proclaimed ‘homer’ and always stood by what he called his favorites. He never shied away from controversy, calling out coaches and teams when necessary.
“We’ve all heard of a players’ coach well, Gary was a players shill to a fault. He wanted the best for all Mahoning Valley athletes and when a team lost in the finals, Gary lost, too. When a team won a state championship, Gary won as well. Anyone who knew Gary was in great company and although he might not have agreed with you, he respected what you had to say. I’ll miss not having Gary on our football preview this season but know he’ll be listening to everything that we say.”
Josh Frketic is a sportscaster for WKBN-TV, Channel 27 who like Balash, appreciated Housteau’s presence at a game.
“Gary was one of the big supporters of all high school sports,” Frketic said. “He was a dedicated person who wanted to see all high schools and individuals do well.”
Dan Pushcar captures area events as the chief sports videographer for Balash and their Channel 21 sports crew.
“Seeing Gary on the sideline always meant one thing – the game that I was at was going to be a good one, not just because of the score but because ‘Captain Obvious’ would let fly what he thought of the play calling. He was truly a celebrity behind the lens,” Pushcar added. “Go Bucks!!!”
Robert Hayes is a sports correspondent for the Warren Tribune-Chronicle-The Vindicator and a freelance photographer who also contributes to YSU athletics.
”I saw Gary at least once a week, if not more often but most especially during football season,” stated Hayes. “He always told me that I worked too much but I think he had me beat in that regard. Despite everything he had going on off the field and in his personal life, he was always upbeat and completely prepared on the field. Honestly, he didn’t let his diagnosis prevent him from doing what he loved and truly enjoyed and I think that is an admirable quality because he had a passion that he loved with every beat of his heart and did things his way.
“I ran into him at an Ohio State-Tulsa football game back in the fall and you could tell just by the look in his eyes that he felt at home but really, his work at the high school level shined and showed his true love for the game and for his community. As many big college football games as he covered, I felt that games back home in the Mahoning Valley meant most to him. Gary really embodied what being from Youngstown was all about.”
Dave Dermer is another freelance sports photographer who has multiple award winning shots to his credit.
“Gary was one of the first people I met when I started in photography,” Dermer noted. “Anytime we would be covering the same game, we would get a chance to catch up and share some stories and laughs. He always wanted to know what big events I had coming up and had some words of encouragement for me. I will definitely miss our conversations on the sidelines.”
Housteau worked as a correspondent for The Vindicator when Rob Todor was at the helm of the department.
“Gary’s passion was high school, both YSU and Ohio State sports and specifically, the athletes,” Todor said. “He worked tirelessly to make sure they got all the accolades that were possible and was a true, trusted friend and colleague who will be missed.”
Area scholastic and college coaches always appreciated Gary’s presence at their games.
“With Gary’s passing, the Mahoning Valley loses yet another great sports figure, reporter and photographer who was passionate about area athletics,” added Joe Conroy, former YSU women’s volleyball coach and is now retired as the school’s intramural director. “Gary was known by all sports enthusiasts in Youngstown and was to me, a great friend who always listened to what I had on my mind. RIP my friend.”
Tony Matisi is the longtime area girls’ basketball head coach who enjoyed success at Ursuline High School, Lowellville, South Range and last year, led the McDonald Blue Devils girls’ team to the state championship game in his first year at the helm.
“There was no one better in capturing area athletes with a lens, someone just as passionate about area teams as the coaches themselves,” Matisi stated. “I just knew that when I saw him at our game it deserved his coverage. We’d always kid because he was always all Ohio State Buckeyes and I am all Michigan Wolverines and I am going to miss that friendly banter between us when we were together.”
Housteau covered many Boardman High School basketball games and Spartans’ head boys’ basketball coach, Pat Birch, always appreciated his presence.
“Gary meant so much to local sports,” Birch noted. “He captured memories for countless student-athletes and their families.”
Carey Palermo, whose Cardinal Mooney boys’ hoopsters won the district championship last season, echoed Birch’s comments.
“Gary Housteau was truly one of the kindest people I have ever met,” Palermo added. “He cared deeply about sports in this town and the young people that played them. He always made my quotes make me sound a lot smarter than I am.”
Steve Leslie is the color analyst for YSU football and serves as general manager of YSN and the Astro Falcons Class B baseball team.
“I have known Gary and the Housteau family a very long time,” Leslie said. “Ray’s son, Ryan, and my son, Daniel, played baseball together and it was Gary always there with that proud smile and camera taking great pictures of my son and Ryan when they were young. Gary will truly be missed by many with special moments like the pictures he had taken for me a lasting treasure. He was a great man, from a great family and my prayers go out to the to the Housteau family for their loss.”
Hope Foundation executive director, Tony Spano, said Gary was one of a kind and a Mahoning Valley sports treasure.
“Gary always had a smile on his face and welcomed you with open arms,” Spano noted. “You were like family with him. He never let anything get him down and always found the best of a given situation.”