Former T-L writer honored as novelist

A FORMER Times Leader sports writer is now an award-winning novelist.

Robin Yocum, a Brilliant native and Buckeye North High grad, has been honored for his great work on his debut novel “Favorite Sons.”

The book was named the USA Book News Best Books 2011 Award for mystery/suspense.

Yocum was a sports writer in 1978-79, working under legendary sports editor Cal Pokas.

From the T-L, Yocum matriculated to Columbus, landing a job with the Dispatch. He eventually turned his journalistic efforts to crime writing. Yocum was an investigative reporter for the Dispatch, during which time he authored two nonfiction books.

In “Favorite Sons,” Yocum utilizes his knowledge of the way criminals think. The result is a well-presented and captivating thriller that blurs the lines between heroes and villains while leaving everyone wondering who they should be rooting for.

Yocum has captured some 30 writing awards during his career. He is also the founder of Yocum Communications, a PR firm in Westerville.



DAVE CALDWELL is a Beallsville icon. I was disappointed to see he resigned Monday night as the Blue Devils’ football coach. Dave and Beallsville football were one in the same. For three decades he patrolled the Blue Devils’ sidelines, the face of a program, school and community rich in pride, passion and hard work.

Dave was tough on his players and they were better as players and future adults for it. That tough love permeated throughout the Blue Devil Nation. He was a great player for the Big Blue before scripting an even more impressive resume as a coach.

I was one of the fortunate media people who developed a friendship with Dave, rather than just a working relationship. I always enjoyed dealing with Dave, win or lose. He was professional in every aspect. He and Beallsville are synonymous.

His record is sparkling but it pales in comparison with the positive impact he has made on hundreds of young men.

I wish Dave well in all future endeavors. He leaves behind a special legacy and awfully huge shoes to fill.



BOYS AND girls in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade are invited to attend “Hoops for HoHo” on Sunday, Dec. 18 from 1-3 p.m. in the Health and Physical Education Center at Ohio University Eastern. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m.

This marks the 11th year for the popular clinic which is sponsored annually by OUE. “Hoops for HoHo” is free but each child is asked to bring a new or gently used toy that will be donated to Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in North Wheeling for immediate community distribution to those in need. Toy ideas include coloring books, art supplies, riding toys, musical instruments, action figures, games, and hair and jewelry accessories for little girls.

The clinic will focus on the FUNdamentals: Passing, dribbling, shooting, rebounding and defense. OUE Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Coach E. J. Schodzinski and Men’s Basketball Coach Donnie Madzia will direct the clinic, and will be assisted by the OUE men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as area high school basketball coaches and players. For more information on “Hoops for HoHo” or to pre-register, contact Schodzinski at (740) 699-2503 or



WHEELING CENTRAL running sensation Gino Bianconi capped a state-championship season by garnering kudos from ESPN. The 5-10, 160-pound speedster was named ESPNHS East Region football player of the week. Bianconi’s national plaudits are well-deserved as he set the all-class Super Six state championship game records for rushing yards, rushing and total touchdowns, and carries in a 35-21 win against Williamstown in the Class A state title game. Bianconi ran 39 times for 355 yards and five scores to set all-class records for the three-class Super Six championship event started in 1979. The rushing yards also is believed to be an all-time record for any West Virginia title game. The old Class A mark was 251 yards and 287 for all classes. Gino is the son of Mike and Polly Bianconi of Bridgeport. Mike is a former Belmont County commissioner. Gino is a Wolfhurst St. Joe’s grad.


ANYONE WHO usually receives a Christmas card from me will be waiting for a good while. I realized last year that the money spent on cards and postage could be better spent on aiding someone in need during the holiday season.

WINNERS IN the Shadyside Christmas parade were: Best overall float, DPM Victory Center Church; Best Youth, Leona Middle School Destiny Imagination Teams; Best Business, Matt’s Tiger Pub. Village officials thank all those who took part in the parade.

BRIDGEPORT NATIVE Lori Bodnar has received a very prestigious collegiate coaching accolade. Bodnar is a 1982 Bridgeport High grad. She was a standout hoopster for the Lady Dogs as they earned a regional berth in her senior campaign. Lori maintained her hoop interests and has served as Kent State’s women’s assistant for 23 years. Lori was named by noted national basketball authority Jason Belzer in his offering as the top mid-major assistant coach in the nation. The honor is well deserved as she has helped guide the Lady Flashes to three MAC tourney championships, 12 20-win seasons and four NCAA tournament appearances. Lori has been the key recruiter as Kent State has landed 14 all-MAC selections and 2 MAC tourney MVPS.

ANYONE ATTENDING the St. John Central Lady Irish basketball game against Conotton Valley Wednesday night at the Green House has a chance to do a good holiday deed for underprivileged children. The Lady Irish hoop team is collecting toys and/or monetary donations for the Shadyside Sharing Tree, under the auspices of Melanie Haswell.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader