Eleventh Annual "Hall of Fame Day" Banquet
October 27, 2013
Embassy Suites, Charleston WV
It was another full banquet room for the 11th Annual West Virginia Chapter National Wrestling Hall of Fame induction ceremony held on a sunny October Sunday in Charleston WV.
As usual, 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.
Brooke High School educator Frank Ferguson was honored with the "Medal of Courage" award. Ferguson noted that, as strange as it may sound, the best day of his high school life was the day he was cut from the freshman basketball team. That led to his try-out for his school wrestling team, which led to a lifetime of love for the mat sport. Persistence with the sport led to success and the 167 lb championship in the 1972 OVAC tournament. He continued his wrestling career at West Liberty. However, a tragic accident in his junior year of college left him paraplegic. With obvious grit and determination, he finished his degree in 1977 and took a teaching position at Brooke High School in 1978. He continued actively in wrestling, working with team and tournament management, and served as an assistant coach at one time. Ferguson noted that wrestling instilled into him discipline and work ethic, but notes that his faith in Jesus had molded him into the person he is today. Thanking his wife Peggy, he notes that she had been instrumental in making it possible for him to be "doing the job I love, teaching my students."
Mike Caruso was honored with the "Outstanding West Virginian" award. Caruso is the President and CEO of the Ohio Valley Hospital and Education Corporation. An obvious success and leader in the business world, Caruso opined that "...wrestling has done a tremendous amount for me and my family over the years." Successful on the mat, as evidenced by an OVAC championship, a trip to Europe with the sport, and a brief experience wrestling at Clarion, Caruso notes with a smile that perhaps he learned the most from his first match, when he spent 5:59 on his back: "Get back up when you get knocked down - that lesson has served me well." He went on to note that in business, as in wrestling, one must "keep moving to keep learning," referring to the need to adapt to a changing environment, and the occasional need to "re-invent" oneself.
Wetzel county stalwart John "Doc" Holliday began his remarks claiming to have some trepidation about public speaking, but his concerns seemed unfounded as he acted like and old pro in front of the microphone. Noting that he was wrestling at Concord when the sport was dropped in 1976-77, he transferred to West Liberty in hopes of finding the training and experience which would lead to a successful coaching career. The plan obviously worked. Holliday quipped that he was "the best wrestler on the team" in college (on the cross country team, that is), and the "best basketball player on the team" (the wrestling team). Holliday pointed out that in sports one focuses appropriately on wins and losses; but, as time goes by, and in hindsight, the numerous moral victories achieved become just as precious.
Roane County native Terry Kendall noted that, when informed of his selection to the Hall of Fame "I just about collapsed." Kendall has been closely related to athletics in general and wrestling in particular in his home town of Spencer WV. He is a two-time WV State Champ, wrestling for the strong Spencer teams of the late 1970s. Paying tribute to some of his coaches, Garry Bender (HOF '08), Tom Woods (HOF '11), and Jim Hamrick, Kendall stated that while growing up he wanted to be just like them. Success at Spencer high led to success at Glenville State College, a teaching degree, and success as a coach in several sports. Feeling "honored and humbled" with the award, Kendall concluded that the sport of wrestling, and the guidance of his past coaches, have taught him many things about life.
Former Vinson and Spring Valley Coach Dane Niday recalled a few anecdotes from his early days on the mat. In junior high, after attending a clinic hosted by (then) HHS Coach Bill Archer, he concluded "This guy is crazy!" Nothing but respect however, as Niday recalled a time when he received a "D" on a grade report, and a counseling session with Coach Archer while a member of the HHS team. The counseling session apparently included some kind of anointing of the head and body with some kind of special oil, which prompted an urgent dash to the shower. Not sure what the annointing oil was, but Niday testified to its effectiveness, as that was the last "D" he ever received in high school or college. (n.b., Coach Archer, in attendance, was heard to mumble something about a concoction of Cramergesic and Atomic Balm in some sort of solvent, but we won't go there....). Niday went on to note that some of his experiences as a wrestler were somewhat similar to his experience as a U.S. Army Ranger -- except that "...at least they fed me in the military." Coach Niday observed that one should not gauge success in terms of wins and losses, but rather in the observation of the growth of athletes into young men and women in search of their goals. "Failure is not falling down -- it is staying down."
Long time wrestling official Burton Rodgers was honored for his achievements as a supporter of the sport and his service as a wrestling official, official in other sports, and organizer of activities for youth at all levels. Rodgers related that his wrestling at DuPont High in 1961 took place on a 20 X 20 foot canvas mat stuffed with horse-hair which would produce mat burns stunting beard growth for up to a year! He was a West Virginia State Champ in 1961, and had a successful career in sports at Virginia Tech. Rodgers recalled that one of the greatest events of his life was his proposal of marriage to his wife Paula in 1966 - and his decision at that time to also become a wrestling official. As it turned out, a clinic attendance in Parkersburg was required for certification as a wrestling official, and this clinic was scheduled for exactly the same time as the planned honeymoon. What to do? One can guess how this turned out. "That was only the first of many sacrifices my wife has made for me and the sport in our 47 years of marriage." Rodgers concluded by saying that if involvement in sports resulted in a positive influence , even in only one kid, it was worth it, and that one should start each day with the goal of exerting a positive influence on at least one person each day.
Long time Brooke Coach Nolan Van Gilder noted that upon learning that a 4 - 5 minute acceptance speech was appropriate, he initially wondered how he would come up with remarks of that length. However, as he thought about it, he concluded that would not be nearly enough time to mention the people in his life he credits with his recognition. He credits his family, sons Donald and Douglas, for understanding that the life of a coach must at times take away from other duties related to family life. He credited his wife and partner Shirley as a source of great support, attending countless sporting events through the years, directing tournaments, organizing banquets, and all the other things which often come with the job of "coaches wife." He credited his assistant coaches through the years, parents who would pitch in with fund raising events and facilities improvements, and others such as Ron Mauck (HOF '06), from whom he learned many aspects of coaching, tournament management, and all the details required for a successful program. In short, moving remarks from a great Coach with little to say about himself, and much to say about others.
2013 Hall of Fame inductees:
Seated, L to R: Nolan Van Gilder, Frank Ferguson, Burton Rodgers
Standing, L to R: Terry Kendall, Bruce Niday, John Holliday, Mike Caruso
Well wishers on hand as Mike Caruso was honored with the "Outstanding West Virginian" award: L ro R: Sister Stephanie Caruso Wise and Lisa Caruso John; Mike and wife Cheryl, son Michael and daughter-in-law Megan Stevens
Family and friends of inductee Burton Rodgers.
L to R: Long time acquaintance Winston Holbrook and wife Becky; nephews Charles Evans and Clay Meyers; Mr Rogers and wife Paula; and brother in law Charles Evans with wife Georgiana.
A few that were on hand to wish Coach Van Gilder well included
L to R: Joe Erlewine, son Doug Van Gilder, wife Shirley and the Coach, and son Donald Van Gilder.
More than one familiar name from the Niday family
L to R: Son Dane Niday, wife Teresa, Coach Niday, son Nicco Niday, and son Joey Koher
Proud of their father, HOF inductee John Holliday, are daughters Shaela and Alina in front.
Also present were L to R Dan and Judy Pastilong, wife Sonya, the Coach, and daughter Amy Holliday.
Getting the names right on Terry Kendall's posse will be difficult, but here goes:
L to R: Sue and Roger Barnett, Luke Scott; daughter Skylar and sister Sharon Kendall Jarvis; Daughter Erin and son Sinjun; the Coach, wife Deana, and sister Barbara Kendell Ellis and husband Mike. In the back are "mentor" Jeremy Stone and son Evan.
...and we wouldn't even want to try to identify the large contingent on hand to honor Medal of Courage recipient Frank Ferguson, pictured here with wife Peggy.
A good turn-out for the Eleventh annual event...
West Virginia State Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame
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