Michael James ‘73
The 1972 Heidelberg University football team became one of legendary status when it brought home a national championship after completing an undefeated season and winning the Stagg Bowl. Michael James, a graduate of Massillon High School, earned his first varsity “H” as a sophomore, playing tight end and later moving to center. His senior season at Heidelberg would be one for the books as the team not only finished with an undefeated season, but went on to win the Stagg Bowl by a score of 28-16. James was one of 15 Student Princes named all-conference team and was one of eight named first team honorees. He was also the only ‘Berg student-athlete to participate in the first All-Ohio State Shrine Bowl game. James has since been coaching and teaching in the Massillon City School District for the past 35 years, serving as head coach at the junior high and high school levels for football, cross country, basketball, and track & field. In the classroom, James has worked in the Physical Education and Health departments at all grade levels.
Paul Ward ‘89
A graduate of Huron High School, Ward was a dual force in athletics at Heidelberg, earning four varsity letters in football and three in wrestling. He was a two-time All-OAC honoree in football, starting all 40 games throughout his career. Ward was a two-year captain of the football team and three-year captain of the wrestling team. On the mat, he was a NCAA Division III national qualifier in the 285-pound weight class during his first varsity season and went on to become a conference champion at 285-pounds. By the end of his collegiate career, Ward amassed a total of 65 wins, which sits at 31st all-time, including setting the program’s single season winning record, 21-4 (.815). He is currently a teacher and coach at his high school alma mater.
Aaron Koch ‘98
Koch, a graduate of Chillicothe High School became an example of how hard work pays off, going from maintaining clay courts as a youngster to being named the 2004 Ohio Tennis Professional of the Year. A four-year letter winner in tennis, Koch was initially recruited to wrestle at the Berg and did so for two seasons. In four seasons on the tennis court, Koch finished with an overall singles record of 50-11 and a doubles record of 36-21. He became the first OAC champion in the school’s history at number one singles and won two championships overall. Koch was nationally ranked by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) at No. 52 in singles and No. 12 in doubles. During his senior year, Koch set a new ‘Berg record by finishing 18-1 at the number one singles spot. He later went on to become a United States Professional Tennis Association certified professional and teaches the game to young children.
Kelly (Gregg) Perez ‘00
Perez, a graduate of Zanesville High School, was a four-year letter winner in both cross country and track & field and a four-time Academic All-American honoree. During her freshman season of cross country, won All-Ohio individual honors and All-America team and individual accolades. Later that year, she was all-conference in the 10,000-meter run in track & field. As a junior, Perez broke five course records and the OAC course record in cross country and went on to be named OAC Runner of the Year, as well as the first Heidelberg athlete to become both OAC and All-Ohio champion in cross country. She also was an All-OAC distance runner, breaking the conference record in both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs. As a senior, Perez became the first female student-athlete at Heidelberg to qualify for the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championship. Perez went on to work at Bank One/JP Morgan Chase, but eventually would pursue her teaching license and hopes to become a head cross country and track & field coach.
Ryan Wise ‘03
Wise, a graduate of Worthington Kilbourne High School, was a four-year member of the Heidelberg University soccer program. By his sophomore year, Wise had earned recognition for his scoring, placing in the top-five in NCAA Division III level and breaking the school record with 25 total goals during the 1999 season. He was named All-America, All-Ohio and Eastern US-Midfielder. Wise positioned himself in the OAC record book, currently ranking in the top-10 for single-season points and goals and top-10 for career points and goals. Wise later became one of the youngest district managers at Glazers Distribution.