The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, the nation’s largest high school conference with 46 member schools, will have its fourth annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 18 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, W.Va.
The bi-state conference, which began operation in 1943, has had countless individuals who have made an impact in the athletic world, both at the high school level and beyond. This year’s class — in a variety of categories from athletes (selected by decade), coaches, media, officials and OVAC “Family” (those who have contributed greatly to the success of the conference through the years) — brings the four-year total of inductees to 73.
This year’s honorees, listed with a brief description of their accomplishments, include:
• Donna Joseph, Shadyside High School Class of 1964 (OVAC Family). Long-time track and cross country coach, official and currently chairperson of OVAC track and cross country committees.
• Nick Bedway, Wheeling Central High School, Class of 1958 (Media). Sports journalist covering OVAC schools during five decades at Wheeling News -Register and Intelligencer.
• Earl Klevins, Warwood High School Class of 1934 (Officials). Had a 35-year career officiating basketball and football (1938-1973), working more than 1,300 basketball games and 570 football games in the OVAC as well as at the college level.
• Sam Andy, Wheeling High School Class of 1958 (Coaches). Winningest boys’ basketball coach in OVAC history with 611 wins in 39 years at Wheeling High/Wheeling Park; won three W. Va. Class AAA state championships.
• Bill Hinegardner, Meadow Bridge High School Class of 1960 (Coaches). Led John Marshall wrestling team to four West Virginia Class AAA state championships and four runner-up finishes as well as four overall OVAC championships and five runner-up efforts.
• Joe Fortunato, Mingo High School Class of 1948 (Athlete 1940s). Three-sport standout in high school; honorable mention All-American at Mississippi State; starting linebacker for Chicago Bears for 12 seasons and a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
• Don Fleming, Shadyside High School, Class of 1955 (Athlete 1950s). Led Tigers to conference titles in football and basketball; three-year starter and all-Southeastern Conference performer at the University of Florida; made all-NFL Rookie Team in 1960 with Cleveland Browns and All-NFL in his third season, but was killed in a electrical accident following that season.
• John Reger, The Linsly School, Class of 1950 (Athlete 1950s). Was all-conference in football and basketball; played nine season for Pittsburgh Steelers and was team MVP in 1959 and a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
• Bob Kelley, Weir High School, Class of 1961 (Athlete 1960s). Football and track star in high school, rushing for 2,730 yards and 42 TDs on the gridiron and was a three-time OVAC and four-time state place winner in track.
• Robert (Bo) McConnaughy, Wheeling Central High School, Class of 1966 (Athlete 1960s). A premier shortstop and all-state selection in both baseball and basketball; first team all-WVIAC at West Liberty State College drafted by two teams in Major League Baseball.
• Gene Cattane, St. Clairsville High School, Class of 1977 (Athlete 1970s). All-conference and all-Ohio in baseball, still in top 10 in two OHSAA statistical categories (fourth in hits with 172 and seventh in RBI with 145); Ohio American Legion Player of the Year in 1975.
• John Leon, Brooke High School, Class of 1976 (Athlete 1970s). Three-sport standout for the Bruins — all-state in football, state champion in track in both the shot put and discus; and 48-6 as a wrestler; three-year letterman at the University of Notre Dame.
• Jennifer Hyland Brown, River High School, Class of 1986 (Athlete 1980s). An all-time great in girls’ track, scoring 126 points in four years of OVAC track competition and a multiple state meet place winner including champion at 400-meters.
• Anthony Reed, Wheeling Park High School, Class of 1989 (Athlete 1980s). Two-time all-state in basketball with 1,290 points in two seasons; two-time W. Va. Class AAA high jump champion in track; three-year starter at Cleveland State University with 1,090 career points.
• Jose Davis, Bellaire High School, Class of 1996 (Athlete 1990s). All-Ohio in football and basketball; Mr. Football runner-up in 1995 with career totals that included 6,769 passing yards and 60 TDs; scored 1,457 points in basketball; three-year starter at QB for Kent State University where he owns several records; played professionally in Canadian Football League, National Indoor Football League and Arena Football League.
• Chris Enochs, Oak Glen High School, Class of 1994 (Athlete 1990s). Three-sport all-conference and all-West Virginia performer; hit .422 as senior in baseball, scored 1,047 career points in basketball and passed for 1,729 yards as senior in football; Big East “Pitcher of the Year” and second team All-America at West Virginia University; won silver medal on Team USA in 2002 World Cup; highest drafted player in OVAC history (No. 11 by Oakland Athletics in 1997).
Also to be honored Saturday are the 2007 “Legends” of OVAC member schools — Rudy Baric (Benwood Union High School, Class of 1938), Mike Basrac (Bellaire High School, Class of 1931), Les Carney (Wintersville High School, Class of 1952), Charles “Doc” Hartwig (Benwood Union High School, Class of 1930) and James “Monk” Moscrip (Adena High School, Class of 1931). This group includes athletes and coaches who competed or coached for member schools before the conference was formed in 1943 or when their schools were not affiliated with the OVAC. While they are not formally in the OVAC Hall of Fame, their accomplishments at local schools deserve recognition.
Dinner is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 6:30. Tickets to the event cost $25 and are available by contacting the OVAC office at (740) 671-3269.
Bob Robinson Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc. of Wheeling is once again the presenting sponsor of the Hall of Fame while WesBanco Arena is the permanent site of the inductees plaques. To read complete biographical accounts of each of the OVAC Hall of Fame inductees, go to the OVAC website (www.ovac.org).
Members of the Hall of Fame selection committee include Thomas E. Rataiczak, OVAC Executive Secretary; Jeff Harrison, Associate Sports Editor of The Daily Jeffersonian; Nick Bedway, retired Executive Sports Editor of the Wheeling News-Register; Doug Huff, retired Sports Editor of The Intelligencer; Robert “Bubba” Kapral, Managing Editor of The Times Leader; Ron Mauck, OVAC Wrestling Tournament Director; Kelly Rine, Athletic Director at St. Clairsville High School; Tom Tisher, Athletic Director at River High School; Jay Kiger, Athletic Director at East Liverpool High School; and Dick Wolf, former East Liverpool City Schools Board of Education member.
The inaugural 21 Hall of Fame inductees (Class of 2004) included Samuel A. Mumley and George Kovalick (OVAC Family); Bill Van Horne and Cal Pokas (Media); Richard L. “Dick” Potts and Jim Foti (Coaches); Evan Reese and A. Wilson Murray (Officials); Ken Alessi (Athlete 1940s); John Havlicek and Bill Mazeroski (Athletes 1950s); Bobby Douglas, Allan Hornyak and Ron “Fritz” Williams (Athletes 1960s); Doug Donley and Tim Spencer (Athletes 1970s); Amy Gamble, Vicki Pullie-Stokes and Mitch Hannahs (Athletes 1980s); and Geno Ford and Stephanie Petho (Athletes, 1990s).
The 19 members of the Class of 2005 included Rudy Mumley and Agnes Timmons (OVAC Family); Doug Huff (Media); Walter Heil and Chester Grossi (Officials); George Strager, Bob Burton and John “Corky” Vrotsos (Coaches); Alex Groza (Athlete 1940s); Chuck Howley and Dick Miller (Athletes 1950s); Mike Sherwood and Terry Snively (Athletes 1960s); John “Fuzzy” Filliez and Lance Mehl (Athletes 1970s); Dee Davis and Brian Swisher (Athletes 1980s); Joey Galloway and Matt Gaudio (Athletes 1990s).
The 17 members of the Class of 2006 included Calvin Giffin and Ron Mauck (OVAC Family); Boyd Nelson (Media); Paul “Bud” Billiard and Richard “Lefty” Hall (Coaches); Warren “Nookie” Pugh (Officials); Bob Gain (Athlete 1940s), Phil Niekro and Lee Patrone (Athletes 1950s); Harry Wilson and Bob Hummell (Athletes 1960s); Ed Burgy and Bruce Smith (Athletes 1970s); Wendy Baker and Dennis Swearingen (Athlete 1980s); Jeff Snedegar and Billy West (Athletes 1990s).
The first group of Legends’ honorees selected in 2005 included Everett Brinkman, Clarence “Bevo” Francis, Lou “The Toe” Groza, Clarke Hinkle and Calvin Jones. The 2006 Legends were Bernie Allen, Russ Craft, Carl Hamill, Bernie Mehen and Jule Rivlin.