There are some individuals I have known in this world that humble me. I could not fathom being confronted with the trials and tribulations these men have had to face. One such man is Coach Emil Nardone. Allow me to share his story of human courage with you.
Emil Richard Nardone was born on October 8, 1948. At the age of eight, Emil fractured his leg playing baseball. While recovering from his injury, he contracted a staph infrction that formed osteomylitis in his right ankle. The infection was not diagnosed in time. Thus, Nardone became very ill and the doctors had to perform an immediate blood transfusion. But his troubles didn't end there. The blood that he received was tainted with Hepatitis C, a virus which laid dormanet in Nardone's body for 30 years. Now the rest of his valiant story.
Emil Nardone graduated from Union High School in 1966. He received a BS from WV Institute of Technology and a master's degree from West Virginia Uuniversity. As a teacher at Union Junior High School, Nardone initiated the first wrestling program at the school in 1974. Coach Nardone produced numerous team and PAC-8 individual champions.
In 1980, his physical problems returned. The hepatitis C virus became active. Coach Nardone had to battle through severe illness, medical treatment, and liver cirrhosis for the next 15 years.
However, in 1983, Coach Emil Nardone then started the first wrestling team at Bishop Donahue High School. There he performed wonders for 15 years. Though rarely able to fill a full line-up, Coach Nardone produced five state champions, one OVAC champion, and numerous OVAC and State placewinners. During his tenure as the "Bishops" mat mentor, his squads also won an OVAC Dual Meet Championship as well as winning over 150 dual meets. Coach Nardone was rewarded for his efforts in 1983 when he was inducted into the Bishop Donahue Athletic Hall of Fame.
Coach Emil Nardone was also instrumental in starting a youth wrestling program in 1978. Their club was dubbed the "Benwood Bruisers," and produced many future scholastic champions. Success of a program is often determined by it longevity - the "Benwood Bruisers" are still a team to contend with on the local youth wrestling scene.
In 2002, Emil Nardone's affliction became so severe that he had to retire early from teaching and coaching. In fact, Emil had to undergo a liver transplant at UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA. The transplant was successful, but then, a kidney problem arose. He had to receive dialysis three times a week.
Ironically, in 2004, another blood infection was transmitted through dialysis. The infection swiftly became rampant throughout his body and accumulated in his right leg. Nardone fought the infection for six months, which involved two surgeries and the amputation of his right leg.
Emil Nardone presently wears a prosthesis, but constantly possesses a positive outlook on life and is very optimistic about the future.
Coach Emil Nardone is one of life's unsung heroes that puts the rest of us to shame. Emil Nardone presently resides in Benwood with his loving wife, Kathy. They have two sons. Dr. Emil Nardone, who lives in Wheeling with his wife Ami, and Dr. Matthew Nardone, a 1993 OVAC Champion and two-time, all-state West Virginia wrestler, who resides in Wintersville, Ohio.
Updated March 25, 1999