Levy supporters hope the community's love of football will diffuse into the community's love for South-Western City Schools, and from there into support of next month's school levy.

Levy supporters hope the community's love of football will diffuse into the community's love for South-Western City Schools, and from there into support of next month's school levy.

Easily more than 500 community members showed up at the Westland Mall parking lot July 19 to hear Jim Tressel speak in favor of the SWCS 8.3-mill, four-year operating levy attempt.

"He joins a long list of community leaders who have pledged their support for Issue 2," said Superintendent Bill Wise. "Wherever (Tressel) goes, he wins, and we hope he brings us a win on Aug. 4."

The Ohio State University head football coach was joined by former Ohio State walk-on receiver Dan Potokar, two community business owners and Julian Jackson, former senior class president and football player for Central Crossing High School.

Citizens for South-Western City Schools, the pro-levy group, organized the event in true pep rally fashion. They had a stage and stacks of speakers playing Ohio State Marching Band hits.

Detracting from the mood, however, and expressing another viewpoint, was an airplane flying overhead, dragging a sign that read, "Vote No on Issue 2."

The crowd, undaunted, chanted Ohio State cheers and adapted them to the situation at hand.

"O-H," one half of the crowd screamed.

"I-O," replied the other.

"Vote for," they continued. "Issue 2."

Tressel said he had pledged support for a school levy in 2005. His choice to support the schools again this year was a "no-brainer," he said.

"If we're going to be a great state and a great country, we need to give these kids a chance," he said. "This needs to be a leading district; it's the sixth largest in the state.

"The only way this state can be great is through great school systems."

Potokar echoed Tressel's sentiment in his speech to the crowd, telling them how important football was to him while attending Grove City High School.

"When I look out into the crowd, I see a lot of young faces; not only young faces, but loads and loads of potential," he said. "Vote for potential."

Jackson said extracurricular activities are a "fundamental element of education." Participation in extracurricular activities taught him the value of leadership and teamwork, he said.

But "no" voters have said the loss of extracurricular activities is something they can live with, as long as it means no more taxes.

Tressel said "if they can just feel the importance to the kids," then "no" voters could be willing to change their minds.

"There's no doubt in my mind: These kids deserve it," he said.