WHEELING, W.Va. -- Having grown up in Clarksburg, Jim Crutchfield knows what it means to be a West Virginian.
So when informed the West Virginia Sports Writers Association had voted the West Liberty men's basketball coach the winner of the Mickey Furfari Award as the state college coach of the year for a third straight year, the significance was not lost.
"It's flattering and there's no doubt about it, it means something to me,'' said Crutchfield, who is the second coach to win the honor three times in a row (WVU's Bob Huggins from 2008-2010), surpassed only by former Marshall football coach Bob Pruett's four-year run from 1997-2000. Legendary Fairmont State men's basketball coach Joe Retton holds the overall record for being honored with five awards.
The fact Crutchfield will receive the award for the second time in his hometown as part of the 67th annual Victory Awards Dinner on Sunday, May 5 at the Village Square Conference Center is also considered pretty special.
"The location does mean something. It's right there in the middle of where I used to hang out as a kid,'' Crutchfield said. "That used to be the bowling alley and I spent tons of days there. The tennis court, the gym, I spent a lot of time there.''
Crutchfield beat out a star-studded cast for the award.
West Virginia women's soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, who led the Mountaineers to their first Big 12 crown, finished second in the voting, followed by WVU rifle coach Jon Hammond, whose team won a national title, and Glenville State women's basketball coach Bunky Harkleroad, whose Pioneers won the West Virginia Conference regular-season title (27-4) and led the nation in scoring (95.3 points per game).
"When you get an honor like this, you're representing the whole program. I am just the one who gets it,'' Crutchfield said. "That is the way it works. Not just with this award, but that is also how I present it to my guys when they get an award.''
Crutchfield has taken the Hilltoppers to new heights.
This season they set a school record with 34 victories against two defeats and made their third straight appearance in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, qualifying for the Final Four for the second time in three seasons. They have won 30 or more games three times in a row, and are four-time defending WVC tournament champions, marking just the second time that has happened, or will happen, since the conference is disbanding later this year.