West Virginia Wrestling

Thirteenth Annual "Hall of Fame Day" Banquet

October 25, 2015
Embassy Suites, Charleston WV

Seven new members were inducted into the West Virginia Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame on this pleasant October Sunday afternoon.

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. Coach Archer was in his usual fine form, reminding those in attendance that the acceptance speeches were to be five minutes give or take (noting that last year's ceremony has the record for the longest and shortest acceptance speech), and also addressed various theological issues.

Grafton's Rod Auvil was honored this year with the "Lifetime Service to Wrestling" award. Coach Auvil noted that wrestling requires physical, intellectual, emotional, and mental development, and such development carries on in life. "What you learn on the mat, you take into life." Auvil expressed special gratitude to his wife Lois, and children Casey and Corey for their support, noting the special privilege he had in coaching his son Corey through his wrestling career.

Well known northern panhandle official Barry Gashel was also honored for his Lifetime Service to Wrestling. Speaking for Gashel, who passed away in 2007, and on behalf of the Gashel family in attendance, was fellow official Ken McWilliams. McWilliams noted that Mr. Gashel had a life full with his work as a fireman, coach, official, and most importantly as a family man. McWilliams recalled with fondness and reverence the multiple times he enjoyed his collegial relationship with Gashel, reviewing and critiquing the various aspects of officiating. Summing up, McWilliams noted the old adage, "If you want something done, ask a busy man to do it" most assuredly applied to Barry Gashel.

From the environs of Roane County and Wood County, Jim Hamric noted that his coaching career began at Walton High School in Roane County in 1970, noting that they had "no mat, no uniforms, no scales, and no place to practice." A mat of sorts was devised, long underwear was dyed green by his wife, (Editor's note to the younger readers: Back in the day, wrestlers wore leotards under their trunks, and, yes, Walton's leotards were as described -- I saw them), scales were feed scales borrowed from a local grocery store, and practice was on the auditorium stage. Hamric paid tribute to former DuPont coach Tom Bossie who provided much advice and encouragement in the early years, noting that on the occasion of Walton placing third in a regional tournament at George Washington, Bossie made a point of procuring and delivering a third place trophy to Hamric's team at Walton. Hamric noted that he is the fifth Hall of Fame member to have roots in Roane County, the other four being Garry Bender, Sidney Boggs, Tom Woods, and Terry Kendall.

Parkersburg South's Paul Jackson began his remarks by noting that his dog ate his speech (and what teacher hasn't heard that one) -- and then proceeded to display the remnants of a page which seemed to have suffered just that fate! No problem though, as Jackson articulated his appreciation to a host of supporters including his family, and his wife in particular noting that today was her birthday and that the timing of this induction ceremony allowed him to take her out to eat on her birthday. Jackson also thanked the South Boosters ("Where in high school can you coach and get flown to Reno Nevada, Florida, and get chartered busses for multiple other trips"). Perhaps Jackson let out a big secret, noting that some will put a football in the crib with a newborn, hoping that something might become imprinted. However, can it be true that at South, wrestling shoes are tied to the crib mobile, such that the newborn can reach for the shoes and associate wrestling with having the arm raised? Nah, couldn't be true (smile).

Ritchie County's John Peters was honored for his long years in the coaching field, including 38 years as a special education teacher. Peters noted that coaching championships is certainly rewarding, but perhaps more rewarding is consideration of the number of kids who were prompted to stay in school because of their association with the sport, and the number of kids who found wrestling to be their only activity in school outside of the regular classroom program. He expressed hope that as he and his generation of coaches retire from the sport, young people will step up to keep the tradition of wrestling alive. And then there was the trip to Cameron in the school bus, accompanied by his wife, on a day which began with sunny skies and ended with 21 inches of snow on the ground. On trying to get home, several sets of tire chains later, a stop at a McDonalds and an offer to let the team stay there for the night, they finally did get home, with Coach Peters and his wife staying at the school until the wee hours until they had phone confirmation that all his team members were safely home. Ahh, the life of a coach.

Wheeling Parks Steve Shaffer echoed Coach Archer's comments about the length of a speech, quipping that "...a speech should be like a woman's dress -- long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting." Shaffer recounted his experiences as coach and assistant coach at Wheeling Park, noting that he had a special place in his heart for the JV wrestlers who often require special encouragement to continue their toil with uncertain expectations of stepping into the spotlight. As did all the honorees, Shaffer expressed his love and gratitude to his family, his wife Mary Ellen and children Shane, Shannon, Stephanie, and Samantha.

Calhoun's Mike Stump was one of three of today's inductees from the Little Kanawha Conference (the other two being John Peters and Jim Hamric). Mike stated that he was not the best public speaker (not true), and indicated that his career as a coach has allowed him to become friends with many people, ending his career feeling like part of a huge family. Mike indicated that he was able to last as long as a coach for a number of reasons, including strong support from his friends, parents who wanted their sons to be competitive, dedicated wrestlers who wanted to get better, and the support of his family.

2015 Hall of Fame inductees:

Seated, L to R: Rod Auvil, Paul Jackson, Jared Gashel (for his father Barry Gashel)
Standing, L to R: Jim Hamric, John Peters, Mike Stump, Steve Shaffer

Coach Rod Auvil's fine family on hand including Mary Jane Ball (aunt), son Corey, Rod, wife Lois, daughter Casey Williams, grand-daughter Lillyanna, and mother Charlotte Moore...

...along with well-wishers Keith Zebley, Rusty and Connie Efaw, Coach Auvil, and Michelle and Stan Leach.

Calhoun's Mike Stump (yes, he is in the back holding the child), with wife Jean at his side, surrounded by some of his well-wishers from Sunny Cal.

Parkersburg South's Paul Jackson with wife Rose, and numerous family and friends.

Coach John Peters with daughter Melanie Britton, grand-daughters Mayce and Kayce, The Coach, wife Candy, daughter Melissa McDonald, and her friend Tim Mathess.

The Shaffer family was on hand including, son Shane, Coach Steve Shaffer and wife Mary Ellen, daughters Stephanie O'Donnell, Samantha McQuaid, and Shannon Tamburino, and brother Mike Shaffer.

Jim Hamric and wife Marjorie, and a posse too numerous to count...

Inductee Barry Gashel must be certanily smiling as a result of his fine family in attendance: Son-in-law Mike Dillon, son Jared Gashel, grand-sons Tyler Dillon and Barrett Dillon, daughter Amanda Dillon, wife Ruth, Daughter Jill Gasher and friend Tony Digiorgio, and grand-chldren Abbey Burt, Kayla Burt, and Alexandra Dillon.

West Virginia State Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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