I have always maintained that Lincoln County produces some of the finest athletes in the state. From Harts Creek basketball to Duval football and in between, that neighboring county has been a testimony to outstanding athletic presence.
Unfortunately, the coaching in Lincoln remains so sub-par that most of the outstanding athletes either suffer through losing season after losing season or opt to attend school somewhere else.
Cases in point include football star Jordan Roberts, softball pitcher supreme Andrea Williamson and even footballer Cody Clay of Alum Creek.
Roberts, for his part, chose to attend high school at Scott in order to further his career. He and his parents realized early on that there was no future stardom at Lincoln County High. If Roberts had attended school in Hamlin, he would have been ostracized as an outsider from Duval and his talents would never have been used properly.
Former Panther Head Coach Cory Beck, for example, took one of the finest runners in the state and tried to use him constantly on defense and as a wide receiver. None of that ever made any sense and the student-athlete suffered because of it.
Hats should be off to the parents and students who have enough foresight to make tracks out of Lincoln County when their high school careers begin.
I mention only Roberts, Williamson and Clay because they are in the news right now and I want to expand a bit on each of them. But, rest assured, I know there are others. The multi-talented brother of Williamson, “Bub” Williamson, attended Logan High rather than thinking of heading to Hamlin. There are many others but space prevents listing them all (you didn’t think I ever worried about space, did you?)
* * * * * *
As we speak or write or however we’re communicating here, Roberts is off to the Kansas City Chief training camp. His aunt has provided numerous photos of him preparing for his return to the Chiefs. Nobody could feel more strongly that Roberts is a football sensation than I. It was a pleasure to watch him grow from a Duval Raider midget player into the Kennedy Award winning back with the Skyhawks.
I was present the night Roberts assumed control of the Scott offense, running what was mostly similar to a “wildcat” pattern. After the historic game, in which he performed like a veteran quarterback, I learned from Roberts that he had never before lined up at QB in his life.
“Not even in the back yard,” Roberts grinned when I asked him about his exploits that evening. I was amazed that the versatile athlete had never, ever accepted a snap from center until that fateful evening. The regular quarterback was injured and Roberts stepped in with a masterful performance in a Skyhawk victory.
Everyone in the stands was amazed and impressed at Roberts’ performance that evening, although his running exploits were what made him a star. Each Hawk fan learned, though, that Roberts would line up at ANY position and give it the old college (or high school) try. What an athlete and what a human being.
Roberts and his father, Randy, made the right decision in choosing Scott High for his career advancement. As I said, who knows what would have happened at LCHS. Roberts might have ended up as the water boy. Then we could have had a movie about the high school water boy becoming a star professional player. Hmmn. Where have I heard that premise before?
* * * * * *
All members of the Roberts family, as well as the folks of Boone and Lincoln counties are proud of the accomplishments of Jordan Roberts.
He is one fine athlete and likely the best raw football talent to ever come out of these parts. In addition, he is dedicated and works tirelessly to make himself bigger, better and stronger. His career at the University of Charleston is a tribute to his work ethic and his pursuit of a pro career just emphasizes what a class act he is.
We’ll all be cheering when he takes the field some afternoon on Sunday Ticket.
* * * * * *
Andi Williamson grew up on Harts Creek, where she blossomed into a star athlete both in softball and basketball. During the end of her high school career, she dedicated herself entirely to softball but let nobody doubt, this gal was a star basketball player as well.
She initially played and took the Harts Lions to the Class A softball championship before the venerable old school was closed by the dingalings at the state board of education (or “bored of education” as I prefer to call them). Williamson then went ten miles down the road to her “home” school at Chapmanville and proceeded to light up the Lady Tiger softball program.
Under legendary Coach Ronnie Ooten, Williamson continued to perform better and better as time went along. In the process, she led the Lady Tigers to state championships in Class AA.
Now, after a standout career at the University of Tennessee and Marshall, she is pitching for the Chicago Bandits professional softball team. Williamson is among the candidates for rookie of the year in the league and her pitching has been stellar throughout her brief pro career.
One can only imagine what a Lincoln County softball team with Williamson on board might have done. Although the Lady Panthers won one state Class AAA title under then-Head Coach Duane Estep, it is POSSIBLE she might have been used the right way in the softball program. It is also entirely possible she would have been relegated to a secondary role, since she did not live in either Hamlin or West Hamlin. Prejudice is alive and well at LCHS, folks.
But, again, her wise family and she had the good sense to send her to Chapmanville, where her career continued to prosper. Now, we can all watch her occasionally on ESPN or any time on the Internet feeds.
Regular contributors to Facebook post photo after photo of Williamson in the pros.
All of Harts Creek and this entire area are proud of her exploits as well. She is dedicated, a hard worker and an amazing talent. Her family provides a strong, positive support system. It is the American dream being realized.
* * * * * *
Cody Clay is a rising redshirt sophomore on the West Virginia University football team. Those who know my pro-Marshall, anti-WVU tendencies know it is difficult for me to brag on a Mountaineer. I have often said that when Moundsville was given the choice of housing the state penitentiary or the university, they made a wise move in picking a jail over WVU.
Be that as it may, however, Clay is another local talent made good. He has the energy, drive and determination to lead the Mountaineer line effort and he is also a class act.
Clay labored in high school for my friend, Stevie Edwards, at George Washington High. There, Clay just got better and better as the years progressed. Folks at WVU rave about Clay and with good reason.
His photo charging onto the field is featured in one of the WVU pre-season guides, continuing to cement his reputation of stardom.
Like the others, Clay has fantastic family support along with a community that cheers his every effort. I am proud to have watched these three youngsters grow to stardom and feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments.
* * * * * *
Clay’s younger brother, Jordan, is also on the college athletic trail. He chose to attend the Air Force Academy, where he will be suiting up later this year.
* * * * * *
Whispers were afloat last week that John “Crybaby” Raese’s radio stations would not broadcast WVU games this season, now that the media rights have been awarded to IMG sports. Negotiations to continue the rights to carry the games on stations like WCHS-AM in Charleston were said to have “broken down.”
If Raese manages to scrub his own stations’ ability to carry the highly-profitable WVU games, it will certainly be a case of the “cutting off the nose to spite the face.” The only loser in that match-up would be Raese and his West Virginia Radio Corporation.
CHS has broadcast WVU sports for decades. To lose the games now would make no sense whatsoever. But little of what Raese does has ever made very good sense.
* * * * * *
As always, let me hear your thoughts, comments or story ideas. Email at the address listed (please note in the subject line that you are writing about this column as I do not open spam) or call on my cell at 304-533-5185.