July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Sean Carlson (1962-2013): The center of happiness who stood 6-foot-9

Sean Carlson made a big impression on people on and off the basketball court, and not just because he was 6-foot-9.

The former Brunswick High and Ohio University center died Monday at the age of 50 from a heart attack, but memories of his exploits on the hardwood will live on for years to come.

Sean Carlson

“He was very much a competitor,” former Brunswick assistant coach Dick Christy said Thursday. “He wasn’t afraid to demand the ball from the guards. He wasn’t real beefy, but he had the height and the long reach.

“He had a tremendous outlet pass. He couldn’t jump real well, but he would turn in the air and that ball was at the half-court line before his two feet hit the ground.”

Carlson, who lived in Garrettsville for a time and most recently in Loudonville, led Brunswick to a 21-3 record as a senior in 1979-80. The Blue Devils’ only losses in the regular season were to Pioneer Conference rival Brecksville, which was led by future Wisconsin and NBA big man Scott Roth.

That Brunswick team, which also featured Matt Drobnik, Art Mankin, Mike Pauletta, John Clinton and Ed Frimel, averaged a school-record 76.1 points and lost 55-53 in overtime to host Lorain Admiral King in a Class AAA district title game.

“Sean had a tremendous game that night against Admiral King,” Christy said of Carlson’s 23-point effort. “They kept fouling him and he kept making them. Because of that, we hung in there the whole time.”

Carlson, who went on to average 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds while playing four seasons and 97 games at Ohio University, was a two-time All-Medina County choice. The 210-pounder averaged 18.1 points and 16.9 rebounds as a senior and 15.9 points as a junior, when he missed seven games with a broken foot.

Jack Schneider, Brunswick’s head coach at the time, chuckled while recalling the injured Carlson’s attempts to stay in basketball shape by swimming laps at an indoor pool at a local Holiday Inn.

“He kept saying, ‘I’ll be ready when that cast comes off,’” Schneider said. “I said, ‘No you won’t. It will be a while.’ I remember his dad dropped him off at school the day the cast was removed and he walked across the gym floor trying like crazy not to limp. He had a burning desire to play.”

Drobnik, a 1981 Brunswick graduate who lives in Charleston, S.C., and works for the department of defense, credited Carlson and Pauletta, also deceased, for showing him the ropes as a sophomore playing on the varsity.

“We used to play pickup games all over the place in the summer,” he said. “Like they always say, you can’t teach someone to be 6-9. Sean was very driven and dedicated to the game of basketball.

“He was just a great guy. He would do anything for you. The whole family was like that. “Schneider’s first comment when asked about Carlson was, “He was big,” but it wasn’t long before he and Christy were recalling many other events that happened 30-plus years ago.

“He just loved the game,” Schneider said. “He was very coachable.”

More stories will be told Sunday at Carlson Funeral Homes & Cremation Services on Pearl Road in Brunswick, where visitation will be held from 2 to 8 p.m.

Online memorials for Carlson, whose survivors include wife Lani and daughter Regan, can be left at www.carlsonfuneralhomes.com.

“I remember Jack Schneider had him listed at 6-8,” Christy said. “He said, ‘Coach, you don’t play in bare feet. I’m 6-9. Gimme that extra inch.’”

Christy also taught Carlson, who earned a degree in journalism from Ohio U, in his government class.

“As a student, he never missed a day,” he said. “I enjoyed having him in both venues. He was a good kid.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.