‘Go Van Bulldogs!’

Last updated: February 18. 2014 2:20PM - 1018 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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I suppose I should remind readers for the one thousandth and first time that this is a personal opinion column. The column is not governed by rules of a journalistic story article. It never necessarily represents the views of the staff and management of this newspaper or anyone but ME. Therefore, casual readers who attack me for being “too personal” are off-base. I am a professional journalist who can write a proper story about anything. Here, however, I voice my views on things. It IS, by nature, personal.

On the other hand, the student/athletes of Van High School should know that I have never labeled them as “losers.” I’ve never done that and never will. To the extent that a sentence could be manipulated to give that impression, I promise to be more careful in the future.

In the meantime, “go Bulldogs!”

* * * * * *

“Disappointed” cannot adequately describe the feelings in one Southern West Virginia town this week.

Perhaps there is no term that can really communicate how residents of that town feel after being let down by me.

Doom and gloom have set in. There is no joy in the hearts of the hundreds of residents.

Hopefully, there is a way to right the hurt and make things better in the future.

Well, actually, it wasn’t me who let them down. It was Mother Nature and/or the school policies in some counties.

Cancellation of school in Lincoln County on Friday, February 14, crushed what had been planned as a Valentine’s Day reunion. It was on that date, marked when high school basketball schedules were announced for this season, that Hamlin and I planned to reunite as one. Sadly, it didn’t happen.

It goes without saying that I am beloved in the Lincoln County seat — and the feelings are mutual. Believe me when I say, I think just as much of Hamlinites as they think of me. It is a mutual love affair, no doubt.

But when inclement weather forced Lincoln County schools to close, it meant the much-anticipated match between Hamlin … I mean, Lincoln County High and Scott had to be postponed. The coaches discussed rescheduling. Every attempt was made to accommodate my schedule so I could be on hand for the make-up game. But, alas, there was no common ground. I am too busy with the state legislature in session to commit to another evening in Hamlin. The air is thick with disappointment throughout that town.

Perhaps, if the game had gone on, I could have been threatened for the umpteenth time by some out-of-control Bobcat … er, Panther, fan. Maybe, just maybe, I could have heard repeatedly how much more I care about Chapmanville Regional High School than LCHS. Gosh, I can’t believe they reset the game for February 26 and I can’t make it.

I thought of cancelling my plans for that night but, tragically, it cannot be done. The other love of my life (beside Hamlin) won’t allow it. It is my job to cover the legislature and I must be in Charleston. Although there are those who believe it is possible, I have still not figured out how to be in two places at the same time.

I am hopeful that time and circumstances permit my return to Hamlin soon, however. Perhaps a state championship run by the Panthers will inspire me to visit Lincoln County again. Maybe I will find love and romance there again and decide to visit some man’s wife for a few hours as I used to.

I am saddened by this tragic twist of weather. I had looked forward to seeing beautiful downtown Hamlin again for months. Alas, it is not to be — yet. Hopefully, the Panther multitudes will overcome their sadness and be able to complete the season roaring to victory after victory. Maybe their sadness at our failed reunion will not devastate the team.


* * * * * *

Speaking of Lincoln County High, there are several interesting tidbits from the Garden Spot of the Mountain State. One revolves around two Chapmanville players who have reportedly transferred to LCHS. Both are freshmen and both, apparently, think they are eligible to play immediately for the Panthers. Head Coach Rodney Plumley appears to believe the pair can suit up as soon as they get an adequate number of practices in. Not everyone is convinced that’s the case.

As has been said numerous times here, graduates of Harts Middle School are in the CRHS attendance area and are supposed to automatically be enrolled at CRHS as their home school as freshmen. Although that rule has apparently been ignored in recent years, the closure hearings for the late Harts High and Chapmanville High clearly defined that arrangement. In addition, Logan County — not Lincoln — receives School Aid funds for Harts area high school students. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission plainly recognizes Chapmanville as the “home school” for Harts area students.

SSAC rules allow a freshman to attend school anywhere he or she chooses without penalty for athletic purposes. It also permits a freshman one transfer back to his or her “home school” if he or she is dissatisfied with the school originally selected. It does not appear to allow a student to jump from the home school to another within the same academic year and remain eligible to play.

Lincoln County High is not the home school for these students, unless they have physically moved from the CRHS attendance area to the one for LCHS. It is possible, I am told, that they have. If that is the case, the students and their parents will have to convince the SSAC that they have made a legitimate move of residence.

SSAC Commissioner Gary Ray told me issues of transfer are “too complex” to be immediately answered. He said he would recommend that a school consult with the SSAC before playing any transfer, just to be safe. Ray, as always, insisted that he could only speak “hypothetically” and not about any specific school.

* * * * * *

CRHS cancelled plans to play a junior varsity game against LCHS Monday evening. Although details were sketchy, some in Hamlin felt that the move was in retaliation by CRHS Coach Alan Hatcher for the transfer of the pair. Some in Chapmanville speculated that Hatcher actually did not want to set up a scenario where the two might be booed or harassed by Chapmanville fans. Still others said Hatcher was avoiding playing against the transfers because, by so doing, he would have been obligated to file a complaint with the SSAC if they suited up for Lincoln County.

I am confident, however, that we will hear much more about these transfers in the days ahead. Not playing the jv game will not solve the problem.

* * * * * *

Those who picked out one word in last week’s column to either (a) prove that I am stupid or (b) prove that I am stupid, should perhaps have checked a dictionary before ranting. “Unappropriate” is not the favored term for what most people call “inappropriate” but it IS a word nonetheless. Several dictionaries list the two words as synonyms. Such sources as dictionary.com, Collins Dictionary of the English Language and Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary clearly define “unappropriate” for anyone who wishes to check them.

Both “in” before a word and “un” indicate the negative meaning of the remainder.

Comments made that using the word proved that I am a disgrace to this profession were … well, unappropriate. Okay, INappropriate.

* * * * * *

And I may well be a disgrace to journalism, but it isn’t for using a word that is correct.

* * * * * *

There were rumbles at the Scott-CRHS game two weeks ago in Madison about the “petition” being circulated in Lincoln County allegedly demanding the resignation or firing of LCHS Head Coach Rodney Plumley.

Contacted over the weekend, Plumley said all he knows about the alleged petition is that “two Guyan Valley mommies told me they had been asked to sign one and had refused.”

Most of the speculation at Chapmanville centered on supposed comments by Emery Adkins, longtime associate and assistant to former Mingo Central Coach Duane Estep. It is Adkins who allegedly told those in Chapmanville that 5,000 signatures had been affixed to the petition.

First of all, I can’t imagine there are 5,000 people anywhere who give a nickel who the LCHS head basketball coach is. Secondly, that many signatures — if existent — would have surely been presented to proper authorities.

So, I don’t believe there is a petition with 5,000 signatures to do ANYTHING in Lincoln County. Beyond that, if the goal of the petition is to oust Plumley and install Estep, I vote in the negative on that one.

Estep has a long history in local sports. To be kind, Estep has proven to be a “quitter” anywhere he goes. While I do believe he is a talented in-game coach, his overall attitude does not lend itself to prolonged success. One can witness his performances at the late Chapmanville High, Guyan Valley, a high school in Ohio, Riverside and Mingo Central highs to see how long he sticks anywhere. When push comes to shove, no matter how quickly, Estep exits, stage left.

I once thought he could be the answer to LCHS’s continued losing streaks. Now, I doubt that he would stay long enough to find out if he could engineer a turnaround. A few negative comments from parents and fans and Estep turns tail and runs. That’s his history; that’s what he does.

Long-suffering LCHS fans will likely never see a winner but Plumley still has the energy and enthusiasm to make them competitive at some point. Every player at LCHS will know Estep is headed out the door when the going gets tough — and will play accordingly.

If Estep is the alternative, Plumley should stay.

* * * * * *

To illustrate how Estep rolls, he is the coach at Guyan Valley Middle, a feeder school for LCHS. Yet, there are repeated allegations that Estep files complaints against Plumley with the SSAC. The most recent — that Plumley practiced his players too early before the start of the season — resulted in a two-game suspension for the Panther coach.

* * * * * *

For those who want to know, it is my prediction that it will be Poca and Scott that escape from the best region in the state to the boys state tournament in a few weeks. What? NOBODY wants to know?

* * * * * *

Your comments, rumors, game stats and story ideas are always welcome. Send them to my email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.

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