You may be thinking, “Rick Steiner. Where have I heard that name?” It could have been several places, since he has been a high profile person much of his life.
Some will know of him because he is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Education. Those in real estate know he is an agent with Keller Williams in Canton.
Sports fans might immediately say, “He’s a world champion professional wrestler. Before that he was an All-American wrestler at the University of Michigan.”
Those in the Lake Allatoona area of Cherokee County know Rick, his wife, Jayme, and sons, Hudson, Maveric and Bronson, because the family lives in their neighborhood, goes to the same church or their children go to school together.
When Fred Larson resigned his post on the Board of Education, board members were charged with naming someone to serve the remainder of his term. Board member Janet Read and Kim Hagood, an educator in the school system, encouraged Rick to interview for the appointment. He was selected.
Now you may be thinking, why would the board members select a pro athlete to be on the school board? Believe me, they had more than one good reason. No. 1: his college degree is in education. Also, he is an experienced teacher.
More than that, he has the respect and values most of us want in our elected officials. Obviously, he is still well respected by members of the school board since they elected him to be chairman.
It was when he ran for a full term in the position that Rick Steiner learned how serious campaigning for office can be. He was talking with people about who he is and what he believes at ball games, barber shops, etc. As he said about campaigning, “You must be truthful and speak from the heart.”
Now he is campaigning again. As I am sure you have read and heard, on Tuesday, Election Day, one item on the ballot will be whether or not the Ed-SLOST should be continued. That is the 1 percent sales tax we now pay for education.
Board Chairman Steiner is definitely in favor.
He relates it to one of his own experiences. The community voted not to increase taxes for schools. During his junior and senior years, all extracurricular activities were dropped. They had no football, band, chorus, drama or anything else other than going to classes each day. He remembers how that hurt.
Obviously, life has been good to Rick. As a pro wrestler, he traveled the world, including France, Russia, South America, Africa, New Zealand and Australia. More than 75 times he went to Japan.
He met people he never dreamed he would meet. A week after the Berlin Wall was torn down, he walked around the site with the German chancellor. It amazed him that on one side of the wall, everything was concrete, while on the other side, there was a park.
Rick was really a “happy camper” when he met one of his idols, Joe DiMaggio. One of Rick’s prized possessions is a baseball DiMaggio autographed for him.
I asked Rick what it was like performing with hundreds of eyes on him in the arena and on television. He said it was humbling and exhilarating. There was loud applause when his name was announced. Yet, all eyes were on him if he did something embarrassing like tripping or falling.
Wrestling for Ted Turner’s television network, Rick attended monthly meetings with him. Turner emphasized he wanted their wrestling matches to be family events. There would not be bad language, spoken or otherwise. Each event must be something he could bring his own family and friends to see.
As Rick’s pro career was ending, he considered his options. Mainly, he wanted to be home and more involved raising his sons to “do what’s right.” He was licensed to teach or go into real estate. In other words, he had planned for the future.
He worked hard to get to where he is today. When he and Jayme first married, they “had no money, slept on a mattress and went to the gas station on the corner to use the telephone.”
In the professional wrestling world, he had a persona — a character he played — and was billed as “The Dog-Faced Gremlin.” Personally, I prefer how mutual acquaintances describe him. They say he is a gentleman, stays physically fit, wants what is best for our children and community, and has a teddy bear heart.
In other words, as people described my dad, Rick Steiner is “a might fine man.”
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.