Fred Cieslewski Inducted 1992 - Class of 1956
He's the famed "C" of Woodward's ABCD corner and is the odd man out as the only non-science teacher of the bunch!
Fred chaired Woodward's Math Department for seventeen years instructing students in general math, algebra, and his personal favorite, geometry. Along with coaching, the latter is Fred's claim to fame. Fred had the psychic ability to hone in on students not prepared for class. These pupils usually rued the day they entered his room unprepared. Perfection was expected when he called geometry students to the board. Apprehension was at an all-time high when proving theorems in front of the class and for a man who could draw a perfect circle free hand on the black board! Now that's intimidation . . . but students left his classroom a stronger, more confident lot. After all, if one could conquer Mr. C's geometry, life must be smooth sailing.
Long before Fred was calling students up to the board, he lived on Streicher Street in what is now
the Polish Village. He attended St. Adalbert Elementary School and in 1952, became a Polar Bear. His best friends were Stan Cieslewski, Don Malinowski, Ed Wiczynski, Bob Czarcinski, Karl Farkas, and Jim Bieniek.
During his high school days, Fred covered boys' sports for SAGA, wrote for the TATTLER, captained the baseball and bowling teams, served as Sergeant at Arms of the Senior Committee, and was President of the Toledo High School Bowling League.
With sports, Fred also concentrated on his education. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and won the William Hall Journalism Scholarship to the University of Toledo. Taking Frank Duvendack's advice, he went to college after graduating from WHS in 1956. He attended the University of Toledo and graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Education degree. During those college years, Fred continued playing baseball. He was captain of UT's team and made Second Team All Mid-American Conference.
After graduation, Fred started teaching at Point Place Junior High. He stayed there for four years and earned his Master of Education degree from UT before finally making his way back to his alma mater. "I asked for a transfer for four straight years before actually getting a job at Woodward," he said.
His own wonderful WHS memories prompted him to return as a teacher. In Fred's eyes, Woodward's attributes were its athletics, educational atmosphere, small classes, community feeling, and teaching staff. Leo Robie and Joe Stobinski were influential figures to young Fred. "Mr. Stobinski was such a hard worker and was so skillful that I admired his ability. Mr. Robie seemed so educated and had such high standards that I felt I wanted to be like him. My dream as a youngster was to teach and coach baseball at Woodward. I had played baseball for Mr. Robie, really admired him, and wanted to follow in his footsteps."
Fred was given the chance when he assisted the varsity baseball team before being named head coach in 1970. Although Fred has retired, baseball was and still is a very important part of his life. He walks away from coaching with 316 wins under his belt. He was thrice named "City League Coach of the Year" and was awarded the same honor for summer ball and on the state level. He was chosen to coach state All-Star Teams, won several summer baseball league, district, and regional championships, and spoke at many baseball clinics during his 22 years as Woodward's head coach.
Like Leo Robie, Fred inspired his ball players. He watched four of his fledglings sign professional contracts and numerous kids play college ball. Two of his best players were Bill Laskey, who played for Kansas City and San Francisco, and Stan Clarke, who signed with Toronto, Seattle, Detroit, and St. Louis.
Although best remembered as a superlative baseball coach, Fred was also involved in other Woodward activities. He was the bowling coach for nine years, advisor for Classes 1968, 1972, and 1978, student Booster Club advisor, member of the Woodward Athletic Board, and chairman of the WHS Fiftieth Anniversary celebration.
Fred is celebrating his own anniversary this year. He and his wife, Joann, have been married thirty years. They have two sons, Christopher and Kevin. Both young men followed in their father's footsteps, attended Woodward, and even played ball for their dad.
As Fred retires from teaching and coaching this year, he said he will miss some aspects of advising the team. "Nothing gave me more pleasure than taking a team of underdogs and defeating a stronger team. I always enjoyed bringing out the best in my players and, fortunately, I was able to do that many, many times!