West Virginia Wrestling

Seventh Annual "Hall of Fame Day" Banquet

October 25, 2009
Embassy Suites, Charleston WV

A perfect autumn afternoon was the backdrop for a perfect Hall of Fame Induction banquet, as about 150 wrestling friends and fans assembled for the Seventh Annual West Virginia Chapter National Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet, held at Embassy Suites in Charleston.

James St. Clair was honored with the "Outstanding American" award. Mr. St. Clair, a noted attorney, was completely at ease in front of the podium sharing many experiences with the attentive audience. He noted (lamented?) that he failed to acquire the wrestler's badge of honor - the cauliflower ear, and worried that perhaps he might be deemed unworthy on that account, explaining that during his wrestling days at the University of Virginia military surplus fabric aviator helmets were procured and pressed in to service as an early form of headgear. He recounted his days at UVa as a wrestling practice partner and team mate of Henry Jordan, 1957 NCAA wrestling finalist, and later defensive lineman for Cleveland and Green Bay, and four time pro-bowler. St. Clair concluded his remarks by noting that wrestling promotes a special camaraderie among wrestlers and coaches, which leads to the ability to develop useful insights into personal relationships and learning how to relate to people - skills which have served him well in the practice of law.

Dale Hinkle , long time coach at Ravenswood, was honored for "Lifetime Service in Wrestling." Hinkle commented on many of the fine coaches he had been privileged to interact with through the years. He noted that early in his wrestling coaching career it was needful for him to study books and such other instructional material as was available for the sport. In his first year as a coach, his Ravenswood Red Devils had a match with the Rod Oldham coached South Patriots at which 12 South wrestlers won via pin - ten with a cradle. After the match, Coach Oldham had nothing but encouragement for the young Hinkle, and offered Hinkle training material and handouts from the South program which might be incorporated into the Ravenswood program. However, at Hinkle's next meeting with Oldham, it was pointed out that none of the generously contributed training material had any thing about cradles, to which Coach O replied "I know." Hmmmm.

Joe Naternicola certainly needs no introduction to anybody who has had any contact with the wrestling scene in West Virginia in the past 20 or so years. Naternicola recognized those who had provided him much support and insight during his career, including Bob Delorenzo, Jim Feltz, and also expressed his pride in his family. While his wrestling resume is quite lengthy, his philosopy for public speaking was summarized as follows: "Be yourself, be sincere, and be brief." And he stuck to his philosophy.

Alex Skirpan's wrestling journey began in Pennsylvania and Carnegie High School. Skirpan noted that wrestling is sometimes referred to as a "Hand-me-down sport" -- often handed down from a brother, noting that his brother wrestled for Pitt and that he particularly "couldn't stand to be beat by my brother." Skirpan concluded his wrestling career at Pitt, and noted that were it not for wrestling, he would not have attended college, and thus would not be where he is today.

Ernie Sparks of Cabell Midland noted that he was humbled to be included within the ranks of those previously honored by the Hall of Fame. Sparks pointed out that wrestlers and their coaches are like an extended family. Some coaches are like wise big brothers, some are like grouchy uncles, some like crazy cousins, (and he did attach a few names which honestly I forget and that is why you need to buy a ticket and attend the banquet...). He concluded his remarks by pointing out that the sport develops the mind-set of a winner, expressing his pride and satisfaction with former wrestlers who have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, judges, policemen, tradesmen, and other professionals in which a wrestler's mind set is a pre-requisite for success.

On hand to receive the award for noted Wheeling area sportswriter Bill Van Horne were wife Gladys and son Todd. Passion for the sport and optimism were two words used to describe Van Horne's approach to his profession, along with discipline, dedication, sportsmanship, and fellowship. Mrs Van Horne related that as Bill Van Horne's standing in the newspaper business flourished, there were many occasions when he could have enjoyed a trip to, for example, the Kentucky Derby or a Super Bowl, but eschewed such trips because he felt his first obligation was to cover the sports scene in the Ohio Valley.

Former Richwood Coach Russ Ward paid tribute to a long list of fellow coaches, many of whom are already named in the Hall of Fame. Certainly, it was good to see Coach Ward's name added to that roster of notable contributors to the sport. Ward noted that he considers his colleagues in the coaching ranks and his former wrestlers as members of his extended family, and feels blessed to be a part of the finest family in the world.

2009 Hall of Fame inductees:

Seated, L to R: Alex Skirpan, Mrs Gladys Van Horne sitting in for the late Bill Van Horne, and James St. Clair
Standing, L to R: Dale Hinkle, Russ Ward, Joe Naternicola, and Ernie Sparks

This year's inductees with previous Hall of Fame inductees in attendance:

Seated (new inductees) L to R: Alex Skirpan, Mrs. Gladys Van Horne, James St. Clair, Dale Hinkle, Russ Ward, Joe Naternicola, and Ernie Sparks

Standing (previous inductees) L to R:

Diana Archer '07, Bill Archer '07, Wayne Bennett '08, Vince Monseau '03, Roger Jefferson '04, Bill Hinegardner '04, Roy Michael '05, Ron Mauck '06, Ed Gilson '07, Fred Schrom '08, Garry Bender '08, Dr. Bill Welker '08, and Bob Stover '04

2004 Hall of Fame inductee Bob Stover and wife Rosella of Clay County. We might believe five grandchildren, but four great-grandchildren? Nah.......

Part of the posse on hand to honor Richwood Coach Russ Ward.

Left to right: Kevin Alderman, Richwood State Champ 1984 126; Larry Alderman, Richwood State Champ 1992 160; Coach Ward, and Lee Parlier, current Head Wrestling Coach at Richwood....

The family, L to R:

Aaron Naternicola, Aric Naternicola, Coach Naternicola, Adam Naternicola, wife Nancy Naternicola, and Joseph Naternicola Senior.

Seated L to R: Aaron Naternicola, Nicholas Hedrick (State Champ '98, '99, 140, 145), and Skip Delligatti (Mark's father)

Standing L to R: Dean Hedrick, Aric Naternicola, Coach Naternicola, Adam Naternicola, West Fairmont and Fairmont State Teammate Bill Proctor (State Champ, West Fairmont 1970 185), and current Fairmont Senior Coach Mark Delligatti (State Champ 1980 167).
...and part of the posse on hand to honor Fairmont Senior Coach Joe Naternicola.

West Virginia State Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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