Liberatore always available for Ferry youth

MARTINS FERRY — Ed Liberatore seems to always be available for the youth of Martins Ferry.

Whether it be as an educator, coach or athletic worker, Liberatore has devoted most of his life to Purple Rider students.

Martins Ferry’s track and cross country programs have benefited the most from Liberatore’s labors. However, all students who’ve crossed paths with the 1988 Bridgeport High School graduate have come to recognize his devotion to the well-being of anyone, athlete or not.

“I’ve always kind of been, if something needs done and I can do it, I’m happy to help out,” said Liberatore, who turned 49 this past Friday.

As a Bulldog, Liberatore was a running stalwart. That continued collegiately at Bethany College, where he also swam for the Bison.

Following graduation, Liberatore headed to North Carolina to begin a teaching and coaching career. While there, he built a pair of cross country programs from scratch before returning to the Ohio Valley as an educator at Martins Ferry.

That’s where he’s spent the past 21 years.

During those two decades, Liberatore has cemented himself as a fixture on the oval and running course at the school.

“I got away from it a little bit when I got married and had kids,” he explained. “But, I’ve kind of been in and out.”

Liberatore’s love for running stems from a longtime relationship with Paul Xenakis.

“I saw him at the OVACs,” Liberatore noted. “What a gift he gave me. It was all those years ago and 35 years later I still love being at track meets. He got my start in track.”

It’s something Liberatore never forgot. Now, he tries to pass on his love of running to a new generation of athletes.

“I did sprints this year, which was a little out of my area,” he said. “But, it was fun. I had great kids. They were a lot of fun to work with. We had a great season.”

For the last few seasons, Liberatore was helping Head Coach Greg Steele with the team’s computerized timing system at meets. But with the team being down a few coaches, he decided to step in.

“I had a great time with it,” he said. “So, I’m still doing it.”

Liberatore has had many stints as an assistant CC and track coach — at middle school and high school levels. He came on board a few years back into cross country when his stepson reached seventh grade.

That, and the aforementioned computer system, take up a lot of time.

“Greg did that a lot of the time, but when he took over I told him I’d come back and run it so he could coach the meet,” he said.

“I didn’t realize that computer can be tough sometimes.”

Liberatore handles the technology quite well most of the time, just like he masters Spanish, which he teaches. He’s also head of the Spanish Club and serves as the Junior Class advisor.

Last fall, Liberatore added another duty to his resume — football public address announcer. It wasn’t the first time he’d handled the mic, though.

“I was sitting the cafeteria with Coach Dave (Bruney) and Joe Kosar about a decade ago and they said that Warren Hood (the late longtime voice of the Purple Riders) couldn’t do it one night,” Liberatore explained. “Coach Dave suggested I do it.

“I did it and it was fun.”

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

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