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HS Insider: St. Xavier coach Steve Specht, Lakota West AD Scott Kaufman recall 9/11

St. Xavier football coach Steve Specht and Lakota West athletic director Scott Kaufman
Posted at 12:55 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 12:55:55-04

St. Xavier High School head football coach Steve Specht was teaching in his St. Xavier High School homeroom class the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Lakota West athletic director Scott Kaufman - then the Princeton High School athletic director - sat inside his school office. He quickly turned on the television after hearing about the first plane that went into the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks in New York.

"It's one of those days that I think just about everybody from that generation can say I know where that was the moment that happened," Kaufman said. "Certainly, for me it was the same way."

As news of the terrorist attacks unfolded on 9/11, Specht and Kaufman tried to grasp the reality for their families, the students and their colleagues inside their respective schools.

"The whole thing was so surreal," Specht said.

Specht, a four-time state champion coach, and Kaufman, the president of the Ohio High School Athletic Association board of directors, reflected upon the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as the 20th anniversary drew near this weekend with the WCPO High School Insider.

Specht and Kaufman discussed what transpired that week with high school sports and the lessons that student-athletes - all of whom were not alive in 2001 - can learn from 9/11.

"You have to bring it up," Specht said. "And for us this week has been about choices. That's what we talked about. What did God give us? He gave us free will. I think 20 years ago the ultimate sacrifices, the choices that those individuals made who lost their lives to try to save someone else. You need to reflect on that."

Specht was 33 years old at the time and was in his sixth year as an assistant coach under the late head coach Steve Rasso.

As the Bombers' defensive coordinator, Specht remembers how St. X, the 2001 Division I state runner-up, prepared to play visiting Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic that Friday night. (Bethlehem is about two hours from New York City).

"We didn't know if we were going to play," Specht said. "Ultimately we did play that Friday night. Their head coach - if I remember correctly - the head coach at Bethlehem, Pa., didn't make the trip. He stayed back. He was dealing with some of the fallout of 9/11."

While Major League Baseball and the National Football League postponed games that week, most high school football games were played around Greater Cincinnati.

"All of us were trying to give kids some semblance of normalcy in a world that became chaotic and incredibly abnormal at the time," Specht said.

Listen to this episode in the player above.

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