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The Press Box: Rookie Year

By Randy Rutherford - Sports Writer | Oct 6, 2021

I’ve got a couple anniversaries coming up. I have been covering sports for the paper for almost a year now, and my wife and I were married here in Sistersville 45 years ago in November. Yes, the second deserves more than a mention in the paper, but we never had the opportunity to live in the community until recently when we moved back home after retirement. We made our first residence in New Martinsville in a trailer we rented from Joe Parish. He was a great landlord never complaining when the $50 a month rent was late and always treating us more like one of his own kids than renters. Living in New Martinsville allowed me to begin my career in coaching under the well known and successful Dave Cisar. The five years I spent on his staff were some of the happiest years of my work career and forged friendships that are still intact today.

When I received an offer in 1979 to become the head football coach of Nicholas County in Summersville, WV, it was something I had been working toward and knew I would accept. It was difficult to leave Magnolia, the coaching staff and student athletes. It was also hard to leave the area my wife and I had called home for the first 27 years of our lives, but we did. Our first year in Nicholas County my mom and dad gifted us a subscription to the Tyler Star News. Now remember this was way before anyone could even spell the word “internet” so the paper was our only way to stay connected to home. I truly looked forward to receiving the paper in the mail each week and getting caught up on the area news. The sports page coverage was so good it was almost like I was there to witness the athletic events thanks to people like Judy Light and Ed Parsons.

One of my favorite columns was the Light Side written weekly by Judy Light. She had a great talent for injecting humor into her sports coverage that frequently involved stories of her own family. Even her dog was a guest writer for the column every once in awhile! Judy’s week was always hectic, and I was impressed by her ability to keep me informed on sports in Tyler County. She managed to report on all of the activities and best of all included many pictures of athletes. Judy Light is my gold standard when it comes to finding my own style of reporting.

Just about a year ago I was uptown one day and was approached by Ed Parsons who asked how I was doing. After a long conversation about moving back and coming home, Ed wondered if I had any interest in covering sports for the Tyler Star News. I was very reluctant because it is not something that I had ever done in my career in sales, but the thought of covering all the local athletic events appealed to me especially with my coaching and playing background. It sounded like something that would keep me busy during non-golfing weather, and my wife offered to help edit my coverage since English wasn’t my best subject in high school.

So, since I’ve been doing this for the last year I have come to realize that Judy’s job was more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Just getting to all the different athletic events requires traveling winding roads like route 2 and 18, no easy undertaking if you throw in some bad weather. But our kids deserve the extra effort and coverage because of their commitment to the programs. We can’t teach dedication to your sport and not practice what we preach. And while covering all the different athletic events, I’ve become aware we have some pretty outstanding coaches and athletes in Tyler and Wetzel Counties. They don’t always win, but they certainly put in the work ethic that’s required to win, and our local teams are starting to see some success and fruits of their labor.

Covering sports for the Star News has provided another benefit I didn’t expect. Because it is impossible to get to every game, especially when they fall on the same night of the week, I depend on the team’s coaches to send me stats and quotes of their respective sports. These are busy men and women. Not only do they coach and teach, most have families of their own. Their spouses and children look forward to the coach getting home from a practice or game because they need them, too. I want to acknowledge and thank all the fall coaches of Tyler and Wetzel Counties; it is a team effort to get the best coverage for your student athletes. I appreciate you taking the time to consistently send me information. It is easy to share good news after a well fought victory, but a lot harder when the chips didn’t fall your way. You are making my job to promote your sport and athletes easier and I hope together we can continue to keep these kids in the spotlight. They surely deserve it.

Finally, thank you to my wife, Mary Ann, for all of your help with my articles. You have and continue to make me look good.