Ninth Annual "Hall of Fame Day" Banquet
October 30, 2011
Embassy Suites, Charleston WV
Despite snowy conditions in much of the surrounding area, it was a beautiful autumn day in Charleston for the 2011 West Virginia Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of fame induction ceremony and banquet.
Over 100 friends, family, honored guests, past inductees, and well wishers assembled at Embassy Suites at 1:00 PM for the reception, and the atmosphere was more like a family reunion than that of a stifled ceremony.
Opening remarks were offered by Wayne Bennett, WV Chapter Treasurer (WV-HOF '08), and the invocation was offered by his wife Diana. Once again, Bill Archer, WV Chapter President (WV-HOF '07) served as the Master of Ceremonies. Coach Archer's talent in conducting such affairs is well worth the price of admission in itself.
Robert Mendenhall was honored with the "Outstanding West Virginian" award. Mr Mendenhall's wrestling resume began prior to WWII, wrestling at Parkersburg High School under the legendary Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder, and claiming a State Championship in 1941, the last State Tournament prior to the WWII hiatus. (See 1941 State Tournament results). Mr Mendenhall's accomplishments as an athlete, patriot, wrestling contributor, and business and community leader have been summarized by Dr Bill Welker (WV-HOF '08), assuredly a brief summary. Mr Mendenhall's expressed gratitude for this, his latest honor, in brief remarks - befitting a man of great humility whose record of achievement needs little embellishment by further comment.
Larry Chambers, honored for "Lifetime Service to Wrestling," noted that he began his coaching career in 1965 at Union High School in Benwood, Marshall County (consolidated with Moundsville and Sherrard in 1969 to form John Marshall High School). In his first year, he had a team but no mat and no place to practice. Union's first match took place in the second year of its wrestling program. With the establishment of John Marshall High School in 1969, Coach Chambers continued as the wrestling coach at Moundsville Junior High until his retirement in 1996. Chambers paid tribute to Don Haskins, teacher and coach, and Paul Craigo. He also expressed gratitude to John Marshall coaches Bill Hinegardner (WV-HOF '04), Ed Dugas (WV-HOF '05), and recent coaches Ed West and Ted Zervos for their assistance during his tenure as Coach at Moundsville Junior High. No doubt, those John Marshall coaches would also express much gratitude to Coach Chambers for developing a steady supply of well coached and experienced wrestlers for the Monarch program.
Coach Bill Archer is probably the only person in the world who can call someone "stupid" and have it come off as a complement. But, he did, all in good nature, in introducing long time Point Pleasant coach Jack Cullen. Noting that Coach Cullen retired one year short of his Point team claiming a State Championship, the proper procedure, as was explained, is to retire at a time when your successor inherits somewhat less than state championship potential. Coach Cullen related that his coaching career began at Central Preston High School in 1980, and was surprised to learn at orientation that he had also inherited the cheerleader sponsor duty. Not to worry, as his right-hand man (er, woman), wife Joann, stepped in to save the day, and has been at his side in the coaching profession ever since. His professional journey went through Morgantown High and on to Point Pleasant in 1983 for the next 26 years. Coach Cullen expressed gratitude to coaches Dave Darst, Trace McCormick, and Dave Hereford for their work with the Junior High and youth programs, establishment of the annual Mason County Open tournament, innovations such as the pool tournament format and use of the Medina board, and also noted that daughter Jordan pitched in to serve as stats person from grades 4 through 12.
Coach Phil Davis' coaching career spanned some 40 years in three sports - football, wrestling, and track, noting that there is no such thing and "major" and "minor" sports - only major and minor coaches. He began the first wrestling team at Buffalo High School in Wayne County in 1971, coached three sports there until 1989, claiming the world record in taking up 120 cafeteria tables and putting down wrestling mats (in something under 3 minutes), that being the daily routine at Buffalo High School as practice was held in the cafeteria. He moved across the river to Chesapeake Ohio in 1989, from where he retired in 2011. Coach Davis remarked that coaching is a wonderful profession, observing that there is nothing better than being called "coach." Coach Davis pointed out that life-long friendships are fostered in the sport, noting that his first acquaintance with former Clay County coach Bob Stover (WV-HOF '04) was the occasion of a vigorous exchange at a seeding meeting, a shared meal at the end of the day, and a firm friendship ever since. Then there was something about spending 1 1/2 hours at a seeding meeting at Nitro on one weight class, Coach Archer's contribution to said debate, and something about a late night phone call, an article from Look Magazine, gender selection, and, ..., well, ..., as has been stated before - if you want the details on such topics of discussion you will just have to buy a ticket and attend the banquet!
WV-Mat editor Dr. Timothy C. Miller was honored with the "Lifetime Service to Wrestling" award. Miller noted that his motivation for maintaining WV-Mat was the same as that which motivates wrestling coaches to board school busses at 6AM on Saturday mornings in the dead of winter - a desire to be a contributor rather than a spectator. Miller opined that the key to making positive contributions involves identifying a need or field of endeavor, determining the utility of said need or endeavor, gauging the possible support for said endeavor, deciding the level of commitment one has for the pursuit of said endeavor, and seeing said endeavor through to its conclusion. Other remarks concerning the feeding habits of piglets and recommended methods to keep deer out of the tulip bed will not be further expounded on here - you needed to be there (see above).
Former Spencer High Coach and well known official Tom Woods' career has taken two paths in the sport - the coaching path and the official's path - either of which alone would have resulted in credentials meriting Hall of Fame recognition. Woods noted that there is a passion which exists in the sport, and this passion exists in both coaching and officiating. He recalled the countless hours during which he and fellow officials Rick Hare, George Keeney, and others would spend reviewing the day's matches, the mechanics of officiating, and the evaluation of the day's performance, noting that no official wants to be guilty of a missed call or faulty judgment which might influence the outcome of the match.
2011 Hall of Fame inductees:
Seated, L to R: Dr Timothy Miller, Larry Chambers, Robert Mendenhall
Standing, L to R: Tom Woods, Phil Davis, Jack Cullen
Point's Jack Cullen and family
L to R: Peggy Jackson, sister-in-law, Brenda Blackston, sister-in-law, wife Joann Cullen, Jack, daughter Jordan Cullen, and mother Lucy Cullen.
... and the Mendenhall family
daughter Sandra Brunswick and husband Rob; sons George and Thomas, daughter-in-law Cheryl Mendenhall, and wife Sue. Another son, Bob, was in Florida and could not make the event.
Inductee Tom Woods and wife Debbie.
Several of Coach Woods' wrestlers were on hand from the Spencer High School 1974-77 days...
...along with a large contingent of family and friends.
Susan and Larry Chambers, with daughters Karen Ochoa and Kelley Englehart, and son-in-law Ken Englehart.
On hand with Coach Phil Davis
L to R: daughter-in-law Amanda Davis, son Scott, Coach Davis, wife Helen, son Brian and daughter-in-law Jody Davis.
The Miller family
Son Mark and friend Lindsey, sisters Allison and Sharon, wife Mary Kay, sister Kathy, and sons Daniel and Nathan.
Coach Archer looks thrilled to be surrounded by his favorite people in the whole world - current and former wrestling officials!
L to R: Richard Hare, Chris Diserio, Mike Stalnaker, Coach Archer, HOF inductee Tom Woods, George Keeney, and Roger Jefferson.
West Virginia State Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame
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