Allen, Gary


One of three brothers from the Clintonville area, Gary Allen was a multi-sport standout for Columbus North High School. His football team finished sixth in Ohio after his senior year and then, individually, he also took sixth at the state track meet in the shot put.


Allen wasn’t the biggest or fastest coming up, beginning as a wide side defensive back on the football gridiron. But he grew to 5-foot-11 and more than 200 pounds by the time college arrived, as he earned a walk-on spot at Ohio State under Woody Hayes. Gary was eighth on the depth chart but worked his way to a primary backup on second string at one point…


Despite that progress, Gary opted for a change of scenery and a transferred to Otterbein in 1957. He was forced to sit out a year due to transfer rules but still practiced every day, patiently waiting and learning the system.


Allen burst onto the scene as a fullback in 1958, earning Little All-America honors as the first Cardinal to ever grace a national list. He was a 3x letterman and 2x All-Ohio Athletic Conference selection in what became a key uptick for the Otterbein football program…


The Cards finished 7-2 during the fall of 1959 and then posted a memorable 8-1 campaign one year later. That 1960 team was enshrined into the Hall of Fame after just missing an undefeated season, falling (7-6) on the last play to Heidelberg in a season where they averaged more than 39 points per game.


Allen averaged more than five yards per carry during his career and established a new single-season record with 768 net yards in nine games. If that weren’t enough, the rugged competitor was also one of the best OAC shot putters in track and field and even did some heavyweight wrestling. He held the school record in the shot put for 20 years after graduating.


Gary was named Otterbein’s Most Outstanding Male Athlete in 1961 before receiving his degree in education, and starting an illustrious professional career molding the next generation. His first stop was at Licking Valley HS as head football coach, head track coach and assistant basketball coach. He also earned a master’s degree from Ohio University in 1966.


After a brief stop up north in Parma, he returned to Central Ohio to join a brand-new institution known as Brookhaven High School. He coached wrestling, football and golf… helping win City League titles in each sport. That included three in wrestling, where he was voted District Coach of the Year.


Allen’s next chapter would come at another brand-new school (Columbus Beechcroft), where he was hired as athletic director and head wrestling coach. Ultimately, that led to him becoming supervisor of all 16 City League AD’s. He developed a code of conduct, worked with athletic trainers at all schools, and oversaw centralized purchasing through multiple budgets while in this leadership role.


Gary served and impacted his community through many other jobs/roles during his adult life, including Golf Director at The Lakes Club in the early 1990’s. Since that time, he and his wife (Claudia) have spent the last 30-plus years residing in Riverview, Fla. The couple has two children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.