Night of Champions

THE OHIO Valley Athletic Conference is putting its best foot forward Monday night.

The nation’s largest functioning athletic conference drops the curtain on another successful year of operation when it stages the annual OVAC Banquet of Champions at Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena.

The affair is the cadillac of prep fetes.

Teams claiming conference titles this past academic year will be recognized, receiving championship pennants to be hung in their respective schools. More than 60 teams in all will be honored for capturing coveted conference crowns.

Along those athletic lines, five coaches have been singled out as finalists for the prestigious Bill Van Horne/Wheeling News-Register Coach of The Year Award.

The finalists are Justin Clifford (Harrison?Central baseball), Michael Denniston (Cambridge tennis), Don Headley (Wheeling Park golf), Mel?Stephens (Wheeling Central basketball) and Doug?Taylor (Madonna football).

The winner will be announced as one of Monday night’s highlights, an award of major significance as the conference boasts more than 500 head coaches.

But the OVAC Banquet of Champions is more than just athletic recognition. Far from it.

More than $25,000 in scholarships, encompassing some 30-plus awards, will be handed out.

That is a most noteworthy and generous statement from individuals and companies who believe in the conference. It’s a refreshing investment in the future of our student-athletes.

While Monday night’s banquet plays out seamlessly in a few hours, it is a happening which takes countless amounts of time to put together. That is the thankless task expertly executed via the leadership of Ron?White.

Athletes and coaches will gain much of the banquet’s limelight, but what should not be overlooked is the selfless actions of scholarship donors, OVAC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Tom Rataiczak, the conference’s executive board and White.

It all adds up to a championship night for a conference filled with champions.