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The Press Box for 1/20

By Ed Parsons - Editor | Jan 20, 2021

The news last month about Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller becoming the first woman to play NCAA Division I football for a Power Five Conference got some of us thinking about girls who had played on boys’ teams closer to home. We thought of a few in Wetzel and Tyler County and would love to hear from readers about others we might have missed.

For example, when Magnolia first started soccer in the late 1990s, the program was co-ed. Players like Andrea Robinson and Stacey Rokles made a mark on that team before the girls’ soccer program became established at Magnolia.

Even today, there are a number of girls who golf for boys’ teams in the Ohio Valley. Golf has become more popular with girls in recent years and the WVSSAC now sponsors an individual girls’ state tournament.

Still, if you would have ventured out to catch area golf teams this past fall, you would have seen Magnolia’s Faith Yoho hitting the links with the boys. A couple of years ago the captain of Tyler Consolidated’s golf team was Anna Griffith. She now golfs for the West Liberty Lady Hilltoppers along with Paden City alumni Dezirae Middleton and Tyler Consolidated’s Cheyenne Morris.

As far as girls enjoying big success on a boys’ team, it’s going to be practically impossible to top Magnolia’s Allison Snell. She played tennis for the Blue Eagles in 1996 and 1997 back when there was only a boys’ team. Allison was one of the best doubles players — male or female — in the Ohio Valley. In fact, she won the overall boys sectional doubles tennis crown in 1997 and that is an accomplishment that we’re pretty certain stands unequaled in Ohio Valley history.

Allison was also part of the team that reached the boys’ state tennis semifinals in 1997 under Coach John Yevuta.

Allison’s son Jalen Thornton played as a redshirt freshman for the WVU Mountaineers Football team this season. Wonder if Jalen thinks those athletic abilities come from his mom or his dad. Mom Allison was a Magnolia three-sport standout (volleyball, basketball, tennis) who played in the boys’ state tennis tournament. Then again, Jalen’s dad is John Thornton, an All-American football star for Don Nehlen who enjoyed a ten year NFL career with the Titans and Bengals.

As always, thanks for reading!