TROY — What began as a routine high school rite of passage turned into a lifelong passion for David Fong.
“I had always gone to Troy High School football games with my best friends Hughes and Randy,” Fong said. “It’s what we did every Friday night in the fall — it’s what pretty much all the high school kids did. But I remember our senior year, in 1991, when we went to the Troy-Piqua game that fall. There was just something magical that night. Something was in the air at Wertz Stadium when the Trojans played the Indians.
“I remember sitting there with my two best friends — they still are my two best friends in the world — in the stands thinking, ‘This is something different.’ The stands were packed hours before kickoff. I’ll never forget that feeling. It was almost like an epiphany, I guess. I knew then how much that rivalry meant to both teams, both schools and both cities. I promised myself that night I’d never miss another Troy-Piqua game.”
That one night would help to spark Fong’s sports writing career, which would continue through his days as sports editor at The Lantern, the college newspaper at The Ohio State University, and on into his time as sports editor at the Troy Daily News and group sports editor for Civitas Media.
It also formed the foundation for his recently published book, “Ohio’s Troy vs. Piqua Football Rivalry: The Battle on the Miami.”
The Miami Valley Centre Mall will be hosting a book signing at from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Fong will be available to sell and sign copies of his book. The weekend also will feature an autograph session with three former Ohio State University football players. Troy High School graduate Chris Fong and Tommy Schutt will be available to sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, while Jacoby Boren will sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. Sunday.
The first autograph from the football players is free, with each additional autograph available for $5 apiece.
The book also is available on the websites amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, walmart.com, target.com and arcadiapublishing.com.
“I guess it had always been a dream of mine to write a book about this rivalry,” Fong said. “It’s been a major part of my life and I know it’s played a huge role in the lives of thousands of others, from players to coaches to fans. When I was contacted by the History Press to write this book, I jumped at the opportunity. It really was a dream come true.”
Fong’s book details the entire 130-game history between the two schools, which dates back to the first meeting in 1899. He highlights some of the more historical contests between the two, in addition to many of the coaches and players who participated in the rivalry. It also contains dozens of historical photos from the rivalry.
“I hope it’s something everyone who has ever been a part of the rivalry — or even just followed it — will enjoy,” Fong said. “I think this rivalry — one of the oldest in Ohio and the most-played in Ohio — is important to the fabric of both communities.”
Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131.