CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In valley sports circles, his name rings a very loud bell.
A coal miner's son from Rand, Keith Pritt was a gritty football player at DuPont and Glenville State College. At Glenville, he met a senior player named Frank Vincent. They went on to coach together at Charleston High School where their team won three straight state championships.
He also made a name for himself as a high school and college track coach. Later, he coached the Charleston Rockets with Perry Moss.
As county athletics director, he spearheaded the formation of the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
As principal at Roosevelt Junior High, he tackled lagging student reading skills with the same intensity he brought to coaching.
He tells anecdotes galore, all peppered with familiar names in West Virginia sports.
At 78, he attributes his fruitful life to an abiding love for athletics and the influence of his mother and some attentive teachers.
"I'm from a large family. I have five brothers and two sisters. We grew up in Rand. Dad was a coal miner and finished at Libbey-Owens-Ford.
"My mother was the toughest woman I've ever known. She knew more football than I did. She wasn't afraid of any man walking. Her nickname was Dutch. I would come in from a football game busted up and complaining and she would say, 'Football is tough. If you can't take it, don't play it.'
"Now, if a parent spanks a child in a grocery store, you'd get arrested. My mother would be in the pen. She would take us to Knuckle City in a minute.
"Football, my mother and some outstanding teachers paved the way for me.
"My third-grade teacher instilled in me a desire to read. She would ask us who took vacations. I never went on a vacation. She said, 'You can go anywhere in the world by reading a good book.' That year, I read 48 books and got a certificate.
"I could have made A's in school, but if you were good in classes, you were not very popular. So I just did enough to get by. That's where my mother set the line. I could spell. We would get the Reader's Digest, and they had a thing to increase your vocabulary. My mother would sit me down and give me those words. They had a spelling bee at Thomas Jefferson Junior High. I'll never forget the word that cost me the championship -- Chautauqua.
"I played ball at DuPont Junior High. In fifth grade, I would go up to the field on Sundays when the older guys would play sandlot football. They would beat the daylights out of me, but I wouldn't quit.
"At DuPont High School, Bob Hardman said his fraternity at Glenville was having a dance. He asked me to go with him. He said it was a mock fraternity called the Holy Roller Court. All the athletes belonged. I later found out why. They got kicked off campus.
"That was my introduction to Glenville. The following week, I tried out for the football team. My mother thought that would be the greatest thing in the world, because it wasn't Times Square.
"They had a great teachers college. I majored in biology and science and health and physical education.
"In football camp, I met Frank Vincent from Pennsylvania, a senior. On one of the plays, I hit the quarterback a pretty good lick. I didn't know you weren't supposed to hit the quarterback. Frank kicked me. He said, 'You trying to be a college hot dog?' We mixed it up until they separated us. After practice, he said, 'Why don't you room with me?' So we were roommates for one year.
"Coach Douglas at DuPont helped me get a job teaching at DuPont Junior High with a guy named Tom Bossie. We had some good teams. Coach Leon McCoy at Charleston High decided to go to Florida. Frank asked if I was interested in going there with him.
"I hesitated because I thought I'd like to be head coach at DuPont. But they had just gotten a new head coach, and he was a good coach -- Corky Griffith.
"Destiny has a way of working things out. I went to Charleston High with Frank in '62 as assistant football coach and wrestling and track and field coach.