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OHIO VALLEY UNSUNG HEROES: White wears a lot of hats in OVAC

Ron White doesn’t crave the limelight. In fact, he shies away from it as much as possible.

But when it comes to sports in the Ohio Valley, it’s people like White that make a difference.

As a coach, administrator and official, White has dedicated his life to serving the youth of the area. And, even though he’s been ”retired” almost a decade, White’s impact is still being felt today.

One of his biggest labors of love takes place Monday night when WesBanco Arena plays host to the annual OVAC Banquet of Champions.

”We’ll hand out the 74 championship pennants, more than 30 scholarships, the Bill Van Horne Coach of the Year and the banners for the five overall class champions,” White said Friday afternoon.

”Scholarships are a very big part of it. We present more than 30 scholarships. Those are a big help to the kids.”

White’s served as the director of the event for 21 years. During that time, the conference has grown to 50 teams and it’s footprint now reaches to places like Parkersburg and Morgantown.

Still, things at the banquet most always go off without a hitch, keyed by White’s direction.

”We’ll start at 6:30 and be done by 9,” he said.

”I just talk with Denny (Magruder, WesBanco Arena director) to make sure we’re on the same page. It’s maybe a 5-minute conversation. We just go over the notes from last year and make sure everything is OK.”

Preparation can have some speedbumps. But, for the most, part things usually go pretty smooth.

”Most of it’s routine,” he said.

Most of what White does for youth looks for routine. But, in actuality, he just makes it look that way.

Another of White’s major duties is assigning varsity officials for girls’ basketball games in the OVAC.

John Howell, who does the boys, recruited White for the job seven years ago.

”We do all 50 schools in the conference,” White explained.

”It’s like putting a puzzle together. You just have to make sure you get the right people on the right games.”

That task was made more difficult by the harsh winter.

”This past season was a zoo because of all the cancellations and rescheduling,” White said. ”But, )doing the job) gives me something to do during the winter and I’m still involved with basketball and officials and that.

”I guess it’s a labor of love more than anything.”

White worked as a basketball official for many years during his years as an educator in what is now the Buckeye Local School District.

White, a West Liberty State College graduate, served a plethora of coaching and athletic administrative roles during his years with the district, which concluded with his retirement eight years ago.

The 1966 Springfield Local graduate started the track program at the former Buckeye South High School.

White said while many officials are veterans, few new ones are joining the ranks.

”We don’t have enough young people,” he noted. ”We need officials badly.”

White still officiates today, just in track and field. He serves as a starter for numerous area meets.

I do the OVAC meet, a few duals, triangulars, the Steubenville early Bird and the Jefferson County Relays,” he said. ”If someone calls me, I try to go.”

In recent years, White started officiating college meets, too. He’s worked at meets in the PSAC and the MEC. He fires the starter’s gun there, too, but also officiates throwing events such as the hammer, shot and javelin.”

”I ended up meeting some people and it just kind of snowballed from there.”

In addition, White has worked the annual Veteran’s Day race in Wheeling with friend Hugh Stobbs.

Through it all, White has received tremendous support from his co-workers, colleagues and family, headed by his wife of 44 years, Eleanor.

”Family keeps me pretty busy,” he said. ”We have seven grandchildren.”

If you know of someone in sports in the Ohio Valley whom I could feature as an Ohio Valley Unsung Hero, drop me a line at rthorp@timesleaderonline.com or via Twitter at RickThorp1