(Posted Oct. 8, 2019)
Two Madison County men, Gene Keel and the late Ray Chadwell, were among this year’s inductees into Otterbein University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony took place Sept. 14. The university is located in Westerville.
Gene Keel, Class of 1953, earned four letters in track and field and three letters in football while at Otterbein. In football, his class beat rival Capital University three of four years, with the only loss coming by one point, and outscored the Crusaders by a combined margin of 115-54 during that stretch.
Keel went on to a decorated high school coaching career, most notably at West Jefferson High School, where he compiled a stellar 157-40-4 record spanning 22 years, 1958-79.
Keel won 13 league championships, made three playoff appearances, claimed two UPI state titles (1962, 1977), and led the Roughriders to the 1976 Class A state championship.
A two-time Ohio Coach of the Year and two-time Citizens Journal Coach of the Year, Keel coached for a total of 50 years, with other stints in Chillicothe, Hilliard, Teays Valley and Capital. He was inducted into the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984.
In addition to coaching, Keel served 34 years as a teacher, guidance counselor and athletic director at West Jefferson.
Keel’s favorite memory at West Jefferson was winning the 1976 state championship. His favorite memory from Otterbein was meeting his wife, Doris.
Ray Chadwell, Class of 1950, earned 10 varsity letters. He was a defensive end in football, a forward in basketball and a pitcher in baseball. He would have earned another two varsity letters had he not been recruited by the Army, for which he went on a goodwill tour in the United States with the basketball team and was a Golden Gloves boxer.
After graduation, Chadwell pitched for two years in AAA for the Philadelphia A’s farm system. When they offered him only $350 for a third season with the possibility of moving him up to the Major Leagues, he retired and remained in his coaching and teaching job at Fredericktown, which paid $500.
Chadwell was head basketball coach and assistant football coach at Fredericktown in 1951 and 1952. He then served London High School as a basketball, baseball and football coach for many years. His basketball teams won 222 games, three league championships, two sectional titles and a Central District crown in 1971. He also guided the baseball program to a district championship in 1969.
Chadwell mentored a long list of accomplished athletes who went on to play Division I at college and as professionals, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, Jim Hackett (current CEO of Ford Motor Co.), and Roger Reynolds who played for the Dallas Cowboys. He also was a father figure to Dick and Gary Reynolds, who he directed to Otterbein where they both enjoyed Hall of Fame careers.
Chadwell was a physical education teacher from 1953 to 1969 and middle school principal at London from 1970 to 1980. He is in the London High School Hall of Fame and the Central Ohio Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. The London gym was named for him in 2007.
He managed the London municipal pool for a decade and used his own money to enhance local parks. He spent Saturday mornings during basketball season providing instruction to youngsters.
Chadwell passed away in 2007 at age 80.