The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)
Pioneers honor gridiron legend
Mayor says city to explore naming street after former running back Ike Maxwell
Ike Maxwell, one of the greatest players to ever put on an Elyria Pioneers football jersey, was honored on Aug. 28 for his contributions on and off the field.
In light of his legacy, a committee was formed to organize Ike Maxwell Appreciation Day to give him the recognition he deserves with the hope it will spark an effort to get him inducted into the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame.
Finally, after decades. The 1971 Elyria High School Football team was inducted in 2011.
Maxwell has yet to be inducted for his individual contributions which comprised multiple records, organizers of the event said.
Maxwell, a 1972 graduate of Elyria High School, was an AllOhio and All-American running back who went on to play college football at the University of Miami before transferring to the University of Akron.
“I say that everyone who is already in the (Elyria Sports) Hall of Fame should be contacting the Hall of Fame and asking them to do the right thing. For everyone who’s entered and everyone to come, until brother Ike is inducted will have an asterisk by their name,” said Rev. Thomas L. Bowens.
Fellow Elyria Pioneer running back Luke Tillman, now a Washington D.C. based attorney, said Maxwell was his childhood hero and drove him and others to greatness.
“I never met Ike personally, but he’s had more impact on my life than I could probably demonstrate with the words I’m going to give here in a couple of minutes. And that’s because Ike played running back at Elyria High and I played running back at Elyria High. And I wanted to be the best running back at Elyria High. Which meant I had to beat Ike because he was the undisputed champion,” Tillman said.
Tillman said Maxwell’s record of five touchdowns scored in a single game motivated him to do more, which led to him eventually breaking the record and scoring six touchdowns, a record that still stands today.
“And the number six had no meaning to me at all. Let me tell you that six was an arbitrary number in all regard, except that it was one more than five. the only reason that mattered to me was because Ike scored five. So I wanted six,” Tillman added.
Years later Tillman told the crowd that young kids still come up to him saying they are going to score seven because of the high standards set by Maxwell and said he owes a great deal to him for motivating him for his entire high school career.
Maxwell was presented with proclamations from Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield and from the Elyria City Schools Board of Education.
Whitfield reflected on Maxwell’s unflinching support, recalling their numerous conversations at Elyria City Hall. Whitfield said he was committed to honoring Elyria stories.
“Ike is a brilliant man. You can have a conversation with Ike. This man has a form of brilliance that is just unprecedented. I love our conversations. Almost want to call you Uncle Ike,” Whitfield said.
“One of the things I’m committed to doing as mayor in this seat is making sure that we honor our past and honor those who came before us. We often have lost stories in terms of African American History here in Lorain County, and specifically in the city of Elyria. And I think now it’s time that we don’t lose any more stories.”
In preserving and honoring Maxwell’s legacy, Whitfield announced he would be asking Elyria City Council for their support in naming a street after him.