EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 3rd chapter in a 13-part series saluting the 2020 Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame class.
POLK -- Bill Linder was born in Ashland, Ohio on July 14, 1972, the son of Jay and Marilyn Linder.
He attended Polk Elementary and graduated from Mapleton High School in 1990. He graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Bill joins the other outstanding 2020 HOF inductees based on his accomplishments in high school and at the collegiate level.
At Mapleton High School, Bill was a three-sport athlete participating in football, basketball and track. In basketball he was a three-year starter at the guard position. In football, his favorite sport, Bill was a three-year starter at defensive back and also played running back and returned kicks. He set the school interception record his sophomore year with 10.
His senior year he earned first-team All-Times Gazette for special teams as a kick returner. He was also selected as first-team offense and defense by the Firelands Conference and NCO Coaches Association. His senior year he was third in the area in scoring and had punt returns for touchdowns of 73, 75 and 83 yards. He was selected to participate in the NCOFA All-Star Classic game after his senior year.
On the track, Bill had an outstanding career as a sprinter, hurdler and middle distance runner. As a junior he helped the team win the district and regional team titles. He qualified for the state meet that year in the 4x100 relay that just missed placing. His senior year he was a state qualifier in the 300 IM hurdles, 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
The 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams placed third at the state meet. With 20 points, the boys team placed fifth overall, only five points behind champion Yellow Springs. He received the Most Valuable and Leadership award for his efforts. Bill set records in the 300 IM hurdles, 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 relays. The 4x800 relay still stands today. Outside of sports, Bill was very active in clubs at Mapleton.
He was a class officer, President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, member of the Academic Challenge team, Student Council and yearbook committee.
Bill’s athletic career went well beyond his high school accomplishments as he went on to play football and run indoor and outdoor track at Baldwin-Wallace College. He was a four-year letterman in both sports. On the football field, he was a three-year starter at defensive back for the nationally-ranked Yellow Jackets. As a senior he earned All-American honors from Champion-USA and Dan Hansen’s Football Gazette. He also received the Ohio Athletic Conference Lee Tressel Award as the top defensive back in 1993.
He was chosen Division III National Defensive Player of the Week by the Football Gazette for his most memorable game against Moravian College. In that game, Bill had two interceptions. The second interception came on the final play when Moravian had the ball on the Baldwin-Wallace 25-yard line with a chance to win the game. Linder intercepted the ball at the 4-yard line and ran 96 yards for a touchdown to secure the 25-13 win.
After football season was over, Bill transitioned to indoor track where he concentrated on short sprints including 55-, 100- and 200-meter dashes. He was the Ohio Athletic Conference indoor 55-meter champion in 1993 and 1994. As a senior, he qualified for the Division III national meet held in Wisconsin-Oshkosh. His 4x200 relay set a school record and placed first at the conference meet.
In outdoor season, Bill earned All-Conference awards in the 100 and 200 meters and 4x100 relay. As a result of his success he received the Paul “Sparky” Adams Scholarship and Kenneth F. Steingass Award as Baldwin-Wallace’s Most Outstanding Senior Male Athlete. Bill was a Dean’s list student and a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
After graduating Baldwin-Wallace College in 1994, Bill worked as a salesman in the construction products industry. He moved to Medina in 2001 and is blessed with three children: Briana (25), Brandon (24) and Brady (19). His biggest joy in life has been being their father and watching them grow into young adults.
In his free time, he enjoys coaching youth sports, golfing, and spending time with friends.
Bill would like to thank his mother and father for their amazing love and support, his coaches and especially all of his teammates. He went into every practice with two goals in mind: Work hard and find a way to have fun doing it. His coaches and teammates definitely had the same mindset.