As another Thanksgiving has come and gone, I was reminded this past week how fortunate we are and how blessed we are to live in these small communities.
Winter sports season has started here locally with a girls’ basketball matchup between Hundred and Paden City that is already in the books. Another game against Trinity Christian School of Morgantown is set for tonight at Wildcats’ Bob Burton Gymnasium. Tyler Consolidated’ girls’ team is on the road on Saturday against Williamstown. The Knights are looking for a breakout season, and with several players back from last years squad they just might get it all together.
The local boys’ teams will be taking the court early next week with Paden City and Tyler Consolidated both opening on the road Tuesday Dec. 6. The Wildcats will travel to Beallsville while the Silver Knights will be in Pine Grove for a battle with the Valley Lumberjacks.
Magnolia will hold a quad wrestling event next Wednesday to kick off the local wrestling season. The Silver Knights will participate in the event and then will be travel to Keyser for a big tournament on Saturday, Dec. 10. As far as I can remember, there were no local wrestling teams when I was growing up. Most of that took place in the back yard or on the playgrounds. There were no girls’ high school basketball teams and I don’t remember any volleyball squads. Times sure have changed and for the better.
Cheerleaders were the closest thing to sports for the girls besides physical education classes which sometimes had dodgeball or volleyball. I can’t even remember girls’ track teams, but that was mostly in Paden City. Some of the other local schools may have had some girls’ sports. I don’t really know. My thoughts for many years were sports are for boys. I never thought I would ever enjoy watching girls as athletes. That has changed as well with some of my favorite being girls’ volleyball and basketball players.
It was truly a joy to set and watch some of the Silver Knights’ volleyball games this season. They had an excellent team and could not have had a better coaching staff. It was just amazing to watch as they showed power hitting, reflexes some can only dream about and dedication. They could volley with the best and proved it with 46 wins on the season. Their overall game was fantastic.
Paden City always puts a good volleyball team on the floor. Year after year, they come away with 30 plus win seasons. Fred King and Jeff Bowers do an amazing job with this small school power and every child I know who plays for them respects them. Girls sports are just plain fun to watch.
Girls do many things they didn’t use to do that helps them stay in shape. Some of them are excellent cross country runners and the track teams just amaze me. Others play softball and some are just outstanding athletes. It wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t soon take up wrestling. They spend a lot of time in the fitness center and many are now hitting the weight rooms. This year’s girls basketball season will certainly bring some excitement. Allen Miller is back to guide the Paden City squad and has one of the best assistants in the valley in Jamie Natali, who has been around along time and was an assistant coach for Bob Burton when they went 27-0 and won the boys’ state championship in 1987. The Silver Knights will also be well coached as Cathy Boggs will begin her second year at the helm. Cathy was an outstanding player for Paden City back in the eighties and brings a world of knowledge to the game. She will be assisted by Ben Thomas so both squads are in good hands.
It looks like the Silver Knights’ boys’ basketball team could be one of the better teams around as they return several from last year’s squad plus a few new faces who will add a lot to their chances. Coach Bob Jones is optimistic about the season and sees some good things happening.
The Wildcats, led by veteran coach Fred King, will have a new look this year. After having several big men the past few years, he will go smaller this season, but they will be plenty competitive and be a fast paced more upbeat team. I believe between the girls and boys we will see some good basketball this season. If you can make it come out and support your teams, it’s what helps make them winners.
Back when I was growing up in Paden City there was plenty to do and I believe it was like that in most area towns. There were youth centers where they had regular teen dances. The schools always had events going on and if you couldn’t find anything to do you went to the ball field or courts. I practically lived on the basketball court. In Paden City. the only one we had at the time was the outdoor court at the high school. Some nights it would be hard to get on the court for as many as five or six teams would be waiting to play.
We would often play till late at night and without any interference from anyone it could sometimes go into the wee hours of the morning. That was a different age and time, but we had fun and many of us are still friends today. I learned a lot from the older guys, they taught us how to be tough, how to play hard and how to want to win. Back then losing was not an option, but as I said, it was like that in all the towns and we lost a lot, but we won many too.
There were lots of neighbors right next door to our outdoor court and most of them worked shift work in the local plants. I’m sure we kept them up many nights. I’m sure they lost sleep over listening to those basketballs hit the court and we were not always quiet. Only once can I remember having a problem. I was playing by myself about two in the morning. You had to climb a pole to turn the lights on and off and they did light the place up pretty well. I was beating the ball on the court and practicing my shot when someone started throwing tomatoes. You know as a kid you don’t really realize that what you do may be bothering someone else and I never figured out until years later that it was probably a neighbor who had had enough.
We also played a lot of sandlot baseball on the field at the north end of the football field and we had pickup football games on all the vacant lots in town. Most of the time it was the kids from the north end vs the kids from the south end. Those were good days and good times. There were often fisticuffs involved, but it always ended quickly and the hard feelings were soon forgotten. I believe we may be returning to some of those good times.
This past summer, Sistersville had several things going on. Summer basketball met two or three times a week with both courts full and softball games were held all summer long. I watched a few games and some became real fiesty. No big problems just good tough competitiveness.
I wanted to jump in and play! That desire you have to never quit doing something you love kicks in and you almost can’t help yourself. So you set on the sideline and dream about what used to be. For the kids playing participating in sports today, I tell you make the most of it for it comes and goes quickly. I was up at the Paden City gym this past week and several of the last couple years ball players showed up. It’s just hard to stay away.
Many people say lots of things about the coaches in all the schools and I hear it, but let me tell you something no one is perfect. Ask former players what they think about their former coaches and I would say 95-100 percent will say something positive. Most really bond well with them and truly love them.
Let’s go Silver Knights and Wildcats have a great winter sports season. See ya at the game!