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Giving thanks for area sports personalities

By Frank Giardina

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are some things you're certain to see during Thanksgiving week - crowded airports, lines at the turnpike tool booths and sleepy, overweight men, pretending to watch the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

It is also a time to give thanks. Here are some athletes and personalities in sports for whom I am thankful.

  • Mickey Furfari: The longtime WVU beat writer out of Morgantown is a state treasure. Now in his 90s, Mickey is a throwback to an era of writers such as Shorty Hardman, Bill Smith, Dick Hudson, Ernie Salvatore and Tony Constantine. I realize Mickey no longer hears very well, and sometimes his inability to do so can frustrate athletes and coaches at some of the media conferences he attends, but live with it, fellas. Show the man some respect, appreciate his wisdom and enjoy someone who is a walking history book of WVU athletics.
  • Buzz Harrison: Buzz helped lead the South Charleston basketball team to a state championship as a junior in 1959 and went on to play at Duke and reached the Final Four in 1963 and 1964, losing to UCLA in John Wooden's first NCAA title win in the latter. After basketball, Buzz went into ministry and has been a pastor for many years in West Virginia and Winston-Salem, N.C. At one time he was also a campus pastor at Marshall.
  • Leon McCoy: This area would not be the same without the former Charleston and Winfield football coach. He continues to cast an incredibly large shadow over the athletic and weight-training programs at Winfield. He loves the kids and they love him back. Athletes from rival schools have also been helped by McCoy, as evidenced by the bond he has with former Hurricane athlete and current Marshall coach Doc Holliday.
  • Chris Parsons:  No one is doing more for track and cross country in our state than the longtime Cabell Midland coach. He loves the sport and the athletes who compete. Everyone should attend the state cross country meet when Midland hosts it in Ona to see what he does for the athletes with the awards ceremony. It's a combination of the Olympics and the MTV awards. He makes it a spectacular show. Our state is lucky to have him. 
  • Keith Pritt: I'm not sure there are any coaches in our area who have impacted more lives than the former Charleston High assistant football and head track coach. Charleston High was a melting pot of society when he coached there. He had passion and compassion for every athlete, rich, poor, black and white. He was the unsung hero of Charleston High athletics in the 1960s and '70s.
  • Scott Welch and Ashley Shepler: In most years they have coached all year long at Charleston Catholic, coaching cross country, girls basketball and track. They have given up basketball, but they continue to coach two sports. These are bright people who could do many other things, but they have chosen to teach and coach young people.
  • Jim Young:  In his professional life as an educator, Young has taught and impacted students in Kanawha County and at Fairmont State. I am one of his former students. For years, he commuted from Charleston to Fairmont to teach college students. Many of his students don't realize what a great basketball player he was. He played at Richwood and Greenbrier Military Academy in the late 1950s and was offered scholarships to both Virginia and William & Mary, ending up at the latter. He'is in his 70s now, but he looks like he can still play.
  • Reach Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.

     


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