OV Unsung Hero: Linda Cihy a fixture in softball

ELM GROVE — If you’ve attended a baseball or softball game in the spring at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex along I-470, chances are you’ve met Linda Cihy.

In April and May, Cihy is a fixture at the facility, which plays host to a bevy of postseason action in both the OVAC and WVSSAC.

As drivers make their way into the park, they travel up a steep road. There, at the top of the hill, Cihy is normally there to greet them — taking money, giving out tickets and saying hello to folks young and old.

“It seems like I’ve been doing it forever,” she said last week during a phone interview from her home outside of Wheeling.

Cihy’s husband of nearly 45 years, Ed, has been a staple of local prep softball for as long as the couple has been together, both as a coach and administrator. It was through him, Cihy said, that she learned about the sport and began lending her time to the many events.

“It’s nice that we’re side by side and not boring each other,” she joked, noting their presence together and the recent tournaments. “But, if a problem arises, it’s good to have him there. We both love softball.”

However, softball wasn’t available for Cihy to play during her days as a student at Triadelphia High School. She studied there before matriculating to West Liberty State College, then on to West Virginia University, where she earned her masters.

Cihy has been retired from Bellaire City Schools for a while, but still subs at the district’s middle and high schools, something she said keeps her in tough with a community she dearly loves.

“I love the kids,” she said. “I know the kids. Truthfully, I probably had some of their parents (in school), and some tell me their grandparents.

“I like the administration and the people. Bellaire is a nice community. I get sick and tired of hearing all the bad stuff about it.”

Bellaire is where she started her coaching stint. She spent a season with “Bee Bee” Marinacci before working with Melissa Lahna for more than a decade. She stepped down a few years ago.

“It was time for someone else to take over,” she said.

That’s why she loves her work at I-470. It keeps her close to the game, and the folks involved with it.

“Tom (Bechtel) and his crew do an outstanding job there,” she said. “I can’t say enough about how great they are.

“They do more than just line the fields. They’re constantly running around. It’s a great complex.”

And Cihy, in many ways, is the “front porch” for it.

“I’m just kind of the admissions person,” she said.

One who has become a familiar face to the many fans who trek up that way on a regular basis.

“It’s gotten to the point they just have their money out the window ready for me to take,” she chuckled. “I have people asking me, ‘Do you go home or do you sit up here all the time and take money?'”

The answer to the is, obviously, no. But, she is there quite a bit. And, sometimes, she’s not the only one doing that job.

“I was collecting money for Class A last week and there was also someone collecting for the Park regional and the baseball game,” she said.

Coming up, Cihy will be on hand helping with media night for the OVAC baseball and softball.

“We’ll have a nice little spread for (the players) after the team picture,” she said.

Cihy said it’s a nice cap for the season.

“It’s really kind of neat.”

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 @RickThorp1