OVAC stars of the past set to reunite
WHEELING – Being chosen for and taking part in the annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic is one of the biggest honors prep players can receive following their senior seasons.
For as big of a deal as it is now, it was even greater in the 1960s when the all-star game options weren’t nearly as plentiful.
As special as the game is, the relationships and friendships formed during the week of camp are often times life-long friendships.
Members of the 1961 and 62 teams had a chance to do some catching up Monday at WesBanco Arena as an organizational meeting of the OVAC All-Star Game Reunion was held.
“Over a period of years, it becomes even more meaningful,” said Yorkville High graduate Frank Vostatek, who played in the 1961 affair. “I was a little in awe during that week. Being just a graduating senior and then playing with so many good players on the all-star team and I remember how big the event was.”
There will be numerous stories and memories being shared on Sunday, July 28 when even more of the past all stars get together for the reunion. They’ll be formally recognized during the Mumley OVAC All-Star Contest.
Vostatek was one of the several all-stars who spoke during the meeting about how honored and thankful he was for the OVAC’s willingness to remember its past and honor past game participants.
“I didn’t think this would ever come,” Vostatek said. “I got something in the mail about it, talked to a few of my buddies about it and we’re all anxious to come down and see what this is about.”
In 1961, the coaches for the game, which included Bellaire’s Don Ault and Tiltonsville’s Dick Thurnes. Vostatek called the week of camp, “tough.”
“Playing for Coach Ault and Dick Thurnes was just fantastic,” Vostatek said. “We lost a very competitive game, but we gave our best (effort). What are you going to do?”
Ault, who made coaching stops at the likes of Bethany, Waynesburg, Slippery Rock and Barberton High School after his tour of duty at Bellaire, was back for the meeting and OVAC Executive Secretary Tom Rataiczak pointed out that this is the first year of the reunion where the coaches have been able to come back.
“We had a great time,” Ault said. “We had huge crowds, everyone enjoyed it and everyone had a lot of fun. And that’s the way this game still is. It’s great to bring together competitors and rivals from (the regular season) to be teammates.”
The great times got off to a rocky start, however. Ault and his coaching staff had to re-select their team because the NCAA didn’t sanction the game.
“We had to scramble to do it, but we had a lot of fun because they were such great kids,” Ault recalled. “We just didn’t move the ball well at times.”
Ault plans on being at the game in July.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Ault said. “I didn’t recognize some of the guys here today, but, of course, they’ve picked up a few pounds.”
The OVAC is still seeking an address or phone number for several players still.
The 1961 players still being sought are: Mike Geon (East Liverpool), Paul Kenny (Steubenville Central), Dick Marinacci (Bellaire), Ron Bertletch (Union), Kent Heckner (Bishop Donahue), Roger Moore (St. Mary’s), Carl Schellhase (Wheeling Central).
The 1962 players that still need to be located are: Dale Barnes (St. Clairsville), Roy Castner (Wintersville), Tom Dye (Steubenville Central), Joe Kniszek (Dillonvale), Curt Rose (Stanton), Scott Barber (Parkersburg), Jerry Braun (Wellsburg), Reggie Cooper (Paden City), Joe Dragovich (Follansbee), Chuck Grandstaff (Magnolia), Charles Kufner (Parkersburg), Gary Nardo (New Cumberland), Ronald Romanosky (Wellsburg), Richard Wisher (Follansbee).
Anyone with information on these athletes should contact Tom Rataiczak at email@example.com
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org