by Ron Gregory
It is always delightful to watch star athletes who are also great human beings. That has occurred many times as I have watched young athletes develop in the Southern Coalfields.
Recently, it has been a pleasure to watch and listen to others comment about Will Shaffer, the Scott High School track star who has signed to run in college for Marshall University.
According to everyone I come in contact with, Shaffer is not only a talented athlete, but also an outstanding student and young man. That combination means he will go far in the world ahead of him.
Statistics say Shaffer set numerous school records in track and that he achieved a 4.4 grade point average in four years at Scott. Never being one to be overly concerned about GPAs, I am nevertheless impressed. I always goofed off in the classroom, to be honest, and was just as happy with a “C” as I would have been with an “A.”
But I see the strength of character that leads a student to seek high achievement and Shaffer is to be commended for his work ethic and determination. Certainly these are good credentials to carry into a Division I college athletic career.
In addition, as noted, everyone I have spoken with has nothing but praise for Will Shaffer, the person. That, too, is a tribute to him, his family, coaches and friends. I know Coach Nick Bias has called Shaffer the best athlete he has ever coached. I’d say that quite a compliment.
A sportswriter often derives joy from chronicling the career of someone such as Shaffer. Although I did not watch him as a freshman, sophomore or junior, it is easy to see what a committed success story he is. I am always proud to say something good about someone like Will Shaffer.
He will go far in his personal and athletic career. One thing I try to do at newspapers is let readers know how a former county high school athlete is doing in college. I have a feeling we’ll have plenty to report about Shaffer.
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The local talent that doesn’t receive nearly enough credit continues to include former Harts and Chapmanville Regional High star pitcher Andrea Williamson.
Andi, now with the professional Chicago Bandits, was visible twice the past weekend on ESPN2. Two of her team’s games were featured.
But one would hardly know it based on state newspaper coverage. Daily papers can chime in about former West Virginia University football players being on Canadian Football League squads, but find little space for Williamson or former Scott football star Jordan Roberts.
It is all, I think, part of the West Virginia inferiority complex as well as bigger daily newspapers hiring reporters from anywhere but West Virginia. To some of them, WVU IS West Virginia athletics.
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Mingo Central has a new girls basketball coach, according to published reports. Central, the newest member of the Cardinal Conference, has employed Clay Campbell, a veteran coach from Kentucky.
Campbell started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Pikeville College, his alma mater. He then returned to his high school alma mater, coaching the Phelps (Kentucky) High School boys in the 1980s.
Other coaching stops included Belfry (Kentucky), Tug Valley, Matewan and Turkey Creek (Kentucky) Grade School. Most recently, he coached the girls team at Pike Central (Kentucky).
The new coach was on board in time to work with the Central girls during the three-week summer practice. “This is a good situation,” he told The Logan Banner. “I hope to lay a foundation and build a good program.”
For a young school (only in its third season this year), Mingo Central has had considerable turnover in its coaching staffs. Duane Estep lasted just one year at the helm of the Miner boys basketball team, for example.
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Hopefully, we can remind readers here that this weekly newspaper, like most, does not have a never-ending budget and manpower to attend every athletic event going on in the county. That does not mean, however, that we are not interested. It also does not mean we would fail to alert readers to athletic events, if we knew about them.
While it is relatively easy to figure out when the three local high schools have events coming up, it is much more difficult to find out amateur sports schedules. They change often and sometimes, nobody knows of the changes beside the players, coaches and parents.
In any event, we will be happy to have information about your teams, their schedules, results, etc. We will make every effort to place that information before the public. But if we are never told of it, we have a little problem reporting it.
It is as I have explained to many coaches over the years, no staff person has to be at a car wreck for us to obtain information about the accident from law enforcement and report it. Likewise, we do not have to be present on the ball field or gym to report on an athletic event. We do need, however, to know the event took place. Good coaches assign a team staff person or a parent the job of getting statistics to the local paper. Sometimes, in this modern age, all that is required is for the designated person to snap a photo of the scorebook and send it by text or email to us.
Rather than sitting back to complain about lack of coverage, what is the problem with helping us publicize your players and teams? It takes little time, as noted, and parents and players will thank you for it.
I can always be contacted at the email address listed at the beginning of this column or you can call me on my cell. I have not yet refused to provide coverage of any athletic event I knew about.
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Hopefully, this issue will contain some results from the Little League baseball all-stars tournament being played this week in Chapmanville. The deadline for this column comes before the championship game is being wrapped up Sunday afternoon, so I have my fingers crossed for results.
Madison, to this point, had looked very good in the tourney.
One point of controversy (controversy in Little League; oh come now) occurred Tuesday night when the sixth inning was omitted from a Man-Madison Number One seven-and-eight-year-old game. It seems Man trailed Madison, 13-9, when umpires called the game after completion of five innings.
The game was started late and it was determined that the league rule that no inning can start after 10 p.m. had to be enforced. It was 10:10 when the game was called.
Madison Number One was declared the winner although some Man supporters wondered why the sixth inning could not have been played the following day. Regardless, both teams advanced to the District 2 Coach Pitch playoffs and it is that result we are awaiting at press time.
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Although I am not the biggest fan of amateur sports for a number of reasons (lack of professional coaches being the most pronounced), I would remind readers that these children work hard and deserve community support. After all, they do not play just to entertain their own parents, grandparents and siblings. Most teams represent their communities well in amateur competition. They should receive support, in terms of attendance and well wishes whenever possible.
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Email or call me with your sports ideas, stories and comments. Use the email address at the beginning of this article or call my cell, 304-533-5185.
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