VIENNA — Jackson County’s representation was overwhelming at the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Two classes of six members each were inducted, including four individuals with Jackson County ties. The recognition of Ravenswood’s Bernie Rees in the Class of 2021, along with Ravenswood’s Kim Creel and Ripley pair Alannah Sheets and Mitch Smith in the Class of 2022 brought the number of Jackson County inductees to 12 in total.
“It’s such an honor” said Sheets, a 2010 Ripley High School graduate who earned numerous basketball honors as a member of Shawnee State’s women’s basketball program. “Seeing how young I was compared to everyone who was recognized was a bit strange – but there are some amazing people here now and over the years.
“Immediately it makes you feel overwhelmed.”
Rees and Creel, who were just a year apart at Ravenswood High School and Glenville State College, both shed a tear or two or more during their speeches.
Creel moved back to Jackson County eight years ago to care for her father and resides in Ripley. His mother died last September.
“My parents taught us so many good things” said Creel, who worked as a drug tester in middle school and high school. She is proud to have her three children, whom she adopted.
Creel was just 17 when she started as a rookie for the first GSC women’s basketball team to qualify for the NAIA National Tournament. In addition to spending four seasons with the GSC basketball team, Creel played volleyball and “thrown” Track.
“I found things to do” Creel added. “I just loved the sport and it was something I loved doing.”
Creel kept tabs on last season when Glenville State University won the NCAA Division II National Championship.
“They were such a good team – I loved watching them play” Creil said. “It brought back a lot of memories for me when we played. Hopefully we built something when we were there.
During Rees’ speech, he tried not to make direct eye contact with the people he cared about most, because every time he did, he had to take a few seconds to pull himself together and get back to business. . One such individual was his former high school basketball coach, Mick Price.
Coach Price took Rees under his wing when Rees moved to Ravenswood for his eighth year. After graduating from Ravenswood in 1988, Rees continued his career at the GSC and set the school record for 3-point percentage and most 3-pointers in a season. He closed his career with 964 points.
“I came to Ravenswood as an unknown child,” says Rees. “He instilled a work ethic in me – he instilled that in me from an early age and made it easy because we did it together. He still has the same passion.
“I owe him a lot for who I am today. Everything he did for me in the gym, it didn’t make me a better basketball player. It made me a leader, and I had that. need. What he meant to me and to so many young men in Ravenswood, you cannot compare. He is the epitome of a servant leader.
After finishing her senior year on the Ripley High School women’s basketball team averaging 22 points per game, Sheets came to Shawnee State feeling like a small fish in a big pond. Yet, by the end of her career in her senior year, she had placed first or second in nine career categories.
“My freshman year, there were a lot of tears and a lot of home calls,” Reminder sheets. “I had a coach who was like a second mother to me and made me feel at home. Players went to her house for meals. My teammates and coaches made you feel like family.
“We had 15 other people by your side who were going through the same thing.”
Sheets, who works for the FBI in Winchester, Va., and lives with her one-year-old son in Martinsburg, scored 1,967 college-level points. She is engaged in October.
“About halfway through my freshman year, I finally got my confidence back,” Sheets said. “I had a winning shot against one of our rivals. We reached the national tournament and went to the Final Four.
“I remember thinking the whole time, I’m going to relive this. We will stay here again, but never have. This memory is important to me.
Basketball will not escape Sheets. She joined her brother, TW, as the coach of his nephew’s seventh-grade basketball team.
“Staying with the game means so much” Sheets said. “I didn’t really know if I wanted to be a coach when I left. He didn’t speak to me until I was away from him for so long. Then I go to my nephew’s games. I’m in the stands and I couldn’t stand it.
“So I asked my brother if I could help him. He said, “I was waiting for you to say something.”
Jackson County’s fourth inductee is Smith, who was Ripley High School’s first three-time state wrestling champion. Smith, who also finished second on a fourth trip to the state, went on to become a two-time All-American at West Liberty.
His record at West Liberty was 58-9.
“I always had the goal of being a national champion in college, but I fell in love with it,” said Smith. “At that time, you feel depressed because you haven’t achieved the goal you set for yourself. But looking back, it’s like we shot for the moon but landed on the stars.
“At the end of the day, being an All-American is always nice.”
After college, Smith started the wrestling program at Alderson-Broaddus and later coached West Liberty. Smith was one of the youngest coaches in the NCAA at age 24.
“The decade-long coaching college will always be near and dear to my heart,” said Smith. “Being the youngest coach in the NCAA, there were a lot of learning curves, but I learned along the way. I had a lot of mentors along the way.
A total of 12 people were inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday – 6 from the Class of 2021 and another class representing the Class of 2022.
The class of 2021 was rounded out by Carl Alloway from Belpre, Ben Howlett from Marietta, Phil Rogers from Parkersburg, John Schaly from Marietta and Erica Dye Cross from Wirt County.
Howlett, who just completed his sixth season as men’s basketball coach at West Liberty, currently holds the career scoring high at Marietta High School with 1,362 points. In his senior year at West Liberty, he ranked fourth in Division II with 23 points per game.
“My college coach (Gene Mullen) didn’t want me to shoot – he expected me to shoot.” said Howlett.
Alloway excelled in football and athletics. As a member of the Glenville State College football team, he led the West Virginia Conference in rushing during his freshman year.
Cross, who is married to former state champion wrestler Josh Cross, qualified for the WVSSAC High School State Wrestling Tournament, finishing fourth in junior and second in senior.
She also competed internationally, winning a gold medal and being named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the 2001 Klippan Open in Sweden.
Schaly just completed his 25th season as head baseball coach at Ashland University and his 35th season at the college level. During his senior year at Marietta College, he was named first-team All-American at second base and Ohio Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
“My two biggest mentors were my dad (former Marietta College baseball coach Don Schaly) and Paul Page (former Marietta College batting instructor and assistant coach), who are both members of Mid-Ohio Sports Hall of Fame”, Schali said. “Probably 90% of what I learned came from my father.
“Paul Page is the best hitting instructor I have ever known.”
Parsons played three years of football as Big Red, but his fame happened on the track. The 1966 PHS graduate was a member of the state champion shuttle obstacle relay team that set a school and state record. The record is still the PHS athletics standard.
Coaching has been Parsons’ passion, especially with youth sports.
“It’s been 52 years since my last competition – it feels like yesterday” said Parson. “Coaching sports for young people is great. My dad sadly passed away at the age of 95 – he instilled in me to never give up and never give up. He had great confidence in me and I try to do that for others. I miss him.”
The other three inductees for the Class of 2022 are Donald Lowe of Fort Frye, Joe Safety of St. Marys and Jesse Wells of Shenandoah.
Security has come full circle since graduating from St. Marys in 1970. His public relations career began by being in the right place at the right time.
Safety was an usher at a friend’s wedding when he met someone who was next door to a Pittsburgh Pirates executive.
At the age of 23, Safety was a public relations executive with the Pirates. After the Pirates won the World Series in 1979, he spent three years working for George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.
Safety then moved out West to work for the Los Angeles Clippers. He retired from the NBA in 2013. Today he lives in St. Marys and works alongside the Chamber of Commerce.
“St. Marys is where I come from – it’s who I am,” Security says. “I’m perfectly happy with this way of life and I’m happy to be back.”
Lowe has become an expert in the field of athletic training. While attending Kent State, the 1960 Fort Frye graduate treated Thurman Munson, Jack Lambert and Nick Saban. He moved to Syracuse and worked with Donovan McNabb and Art Monk.
The sports training area of the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center is called the Donald and Mary Lowe Sports Medicine Center.
Lowe also made a stop at Georgia Tech and his experience with the United States Olympic Committee took him to the 1983 Pan American Games. He was also a member of the 1992 Olympic coaching staff in Barcelona.
“There was a gentleman who was working on an article about me several years ago in Marietta, and he said that a little boy from town did well,” Lowe said. “I received many awards. To be recognized for this Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame is very special.
Wells was a member of the Shenandoah wrestling program that went statewide — and marked the first time that has happened for any SHS sport. As a member of the Mount Union football team, he finished his career as the school’s all-time leading tackler for a defensive lineman.
Wells, who played three seasons in the Arena Football League, accepted the job of head coach of the Shenandoah football team which had won just two games in its previous three seasons. Over the next six seasons under Wells, the Zeps qualified for the playoffs three times.
Contact Kerry Patrick at [email protected]