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The Press Box: Milestones

By Randy Rutherford - Sports Writer | May 19, 2021

Now that the basketball season has come to an end, it’s time to send our congratulations out to George Washington High School for winning the boys AAAA state championship, Shady Spring High School the AAA state championship, Williamstown High School the AA state championship and Man High School the A state championship. Also capturing state titles are the girl’s teams from Huntington High School in Class AAAA, Nitro High School in Class AAA, Wyoming East High School in Class AA, and Tug Valley in Class A. These great accomplishments for these recent title holders got me thinking about milestones occurring in coaching careers. Great coaches realize success is a moving target and to remain relevant they must be dedicated to lifelong learning and continuous improvement. We don’t have to look very far across the hills of West Virginia to find many successful coaches. Our local coaching legends can help us understand the paths their journeys have taken to reach success.

Milestones. What are they? Oxford Languages define milestone as an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development. Originally milestones were stones placed beside a road to mark the distance in miles between destinations. It’s easy to understand how this word has worked its way into our everyday language.

For this Press Box, I am exploring local baseball records. It is a favorite of mine right up there with football. Baseball offers lots of trivia and a rich history since the 19th century. More than any other major league sport, baseball claims the most diverse set of athletes. Every state in the USA can claim at least one player making it to the show. Most recently Jon Adkins of Huntington, WV debuted in 2003 as a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox. I have to believe there were many local coaches that helped build Adkins’s success, and gained opportunities to put down their own milestones along his journey.

Some local well known baseball coaches that have earned their reputations through years of experience are Dave Cisar, Magnolia Baseball; Rob Jones, Tyler Consolidated Baseball, and Brent Croasmun, Paden City High School baseball. All still coaching and continuing to accumulate milestones.

Coach Rob Jones is in his 8th year as the skipper of the Silver Knights. His team has jumped out to a fast start with a record of 12-3. Rob and I connected this week to talk about his baseball journey. “The goal when our staff took over was to create a program that instilled fundamentals, work ethic and discipline,” shares Coach Jones. He believes it is the student athletes that deserve the recognition. The coach explains, “The wins are a credit to our athletes over the last 8 years. We want to continue to build something the school and the Tyler County community can be proud of.”

Coach Vance Ash serves as assistant to the Silver Knight baseball program. I asked him his opinion about his boss. Coach Ash said, “He is young and energetic and loves the game of baseball.” The seasoned coach believes Coach Jones is very knowledgeable about the game and Tyler Knights baseball is in good hands with him at the helm. Coach Ash shared another of the younger coach’s strengths, “His in game adjustments is what I admire most about Coach Jones.” Coach Jones also pointed out that his staff made up of Jordan Ash, Brian Ferrell and Vance has been the biggest part of his success and feels he has the best assistants in the state.

Brent Croasman is in his 33rd year as Paden City’s head baseball coach for the Wildcats. He reached a coaching milestone this past week picking up win number 400 as the Cats defeated Beallsville. Longevity is the key to winning that many games, and Brent has definitely paid the price with his years of service. I believe Paden City is fortunate to have him as their coach for all these years and the guidance he has provided to the many athletes wearing the green and white. To Coach Croasman kudos on a job well done!

Longtime Head Coach Dave Cisar has been at the helm of the Blue Eagle baseball team for 50 years. In that time he has accumulated more than 900 wins as the Magnolia skipper. He is well known and respected throughout the Ohio Valley for his knowledge and management style of the sport. I was fortunate to start my career under Dave’s guidance as his assistant in baseball my first year teaching and coaching some 46 years ago. I had a chance to visit him in the dugout at the TCHS vs Magnolia game this past week. Emotional, you betcha. Dave and I have stayed in touch over the years, but it was fun and heart-filled to reminisce about the milestones placed along the journey. During life’s ups and downs, a few things have remained constant for the Magnolia veteran; Dave’s fiery style of coaching, his love of the sport of baseball and his devotion to his family.

People say it all the time. Life is a journey. The experiences we gather as we scramble through the day are what fill our lives with richness, life lessons and purpose. Sports add a unique layer to the milestones we place along the way. Some milestones hit us hard and fast. Some we gather in smaller piecemeal amounts instead of experiencing a sudden high or celebration. However you place your milestones, remember these are the markers that often define us and our place in the world. To the fine coaches of our students and athletes, please continue to teach by example and keep placing those milestones along the road for us all to follow.