Family support a huge key to success for Hall of Famers

There’s a cliche that says successful people aren’t born, they’re made.

That expression was seemingly right on the money Saturday evening inside WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling.

The eighth annual OVAC Hall of Fame class took its rightful place in Ohio Valley history when it was formally inducted.

As the speeches were rattled off by the 18 inductees or their appointed recipient, the common themes were honor, shock, humility, but most importantly recognizing how others played an instrumental role in helping them become successful in their respective sport.

Dick Thurnes – the former Buckeye South head football coach – pointed out several times during his speech what a key role his assistant coaches played.

But, most notably, he recognized the players who helped make him as successful as he was.

“Don’t tell me you’re a successful coach and you don’t have good players,” Thurnes said.

With several of his former players and assistant coaches in the building, Thurnes recognized the players at all three of his coaching stops: Cameron, Warren Consolidated and Buckeye South.

“The players at those schools put me here,” Thurnes said. “To my boys, and I mean everyone of you, you guys put me here. And for that, I am so grateful.”

St. John Central graduate Rick Boron passed out major kudos to his “supporting cast” throughout his speech.

The Parade All-American, who played for the late Bo Schembechler at Miami of Ohio, pointed out that whether it was at SJC, Miami or even in his post-athletic life, “the common denominator in my success was the support I received.”

He also formed his football philosophy from the time he spent under Dan McGrew at St. John and Schembechler.

Regardless if it was football, baseball or in coaching, Boron’s ultimate fans never wavered.

“The group that stood by me for my first snap, my first base hit was my family,” Boron said. “I realize without my family, who was my ultimate supporting cast, this (induction) would not be possible.”

Bridgeport High graduate Craig Miller (Class of 1979) credited his prep coaches for his success first and foremost.

He offered up a few stories on his first meeting with current Martins Ferry head coach Dave Bruney, who led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season in 1978.

“Coach Dave asked me if I liked pain,” Miller said. “I said, ‘no,’ and Coach Dave said, ‘you will learn to like pain.'”

Growing up – as most kids do in their youth – he played baseball, but as he walked the halls at Bridgeport his freshman year, a young track coach, Paul Xenakis, approached him about throwing the discus and running hurdles.

“I told coach Xenakis I’ve never thrown a discus and didn’t know much about it,” Miller said. “He said, ‘I will teach you and you just throw it as far as you can.'”

Miller went on to finish as a state runnerup in the event as a senior.

Quite simply, those two coaches along his basketball coach, Frank Baxter, helped pave the way for Craig Miller.

“I don’t think I would be standing up here (for this induction) if I had decided to play baseball,” Miller said.

Shadyside High graduate Pat Miller (Class of 1979) is a big proponent of playing multiple sports in high school.

And rightfully so.

The former Tiger was a standout in football, baseball and track. He pulled an incredible double as a senior when he was named first-team all-Ohio in baseball and then the following weekend won the state pole vault title.

“I have to thank Shadyside High School for allowing me to do two sports,” Miller said. “They provided a great opportunity for me.”

Pat Miller was also excited that he and Craig – to whom he’s not related – went in on the same ballot because they were consistently linked during their senior year around the oval because of their success.

Pat recognized several of his past teammates, who were in the audience, as well as his defensive coordinator Terry Snively.

Above all, Miller noted his family and proclaimed his parents were his unquestioned “biggest fans.”

St. Clairsville graduate Sharon Vincent (Class of 1981) almost single handedly led the Lady Red Devils to the state title as a senior when she won the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Extremely humble, Vincent was maybe most appreciative of the fact that she hadn’t been forgotten.

Vincent pointed out that she ran naturally and did it all of the time.

“As a young girl, I ran everywhere,” Vincent said. “I ran to school, to the store and I even ran after the boys on the playground. I loved to run.”

Again, family became the common theme when she recognized her brother, Shaun, who was in the crowd.

“I am Shaun’s hero and he is mine,” Sharon said of her brother, who played in the NFL.

Vincent was one of the most philosophical speakers of the evening and encouraged the audience to continue to work hard and do things with passion.

All in all, Vincent’s speech was one of the most powerful and touching of the evening.


EACH YEAR, I realize more and more what an absolute honor it is for these inductees to be recognized. To be able to reflect on your achievements and successes with your family, past teammates, coaches, friends and even rivals means more than words can even describe for the majority of these players, coaches and officials.

Hopefully, those memories aren’t being lost by the kids of the current generation and things don’t become taken for granted.

I ENJOYED Larry Shaw’s honesty early in his speech. The longtime and high successful Oak Glen wrestling coach, who was inducted on his first year of eligibility, pointed out that when he was hired as the Golden Bears’ head coach, he didn’t even know what the OVAC was.

Shaw and Ashley Battle’s induction on their first year of eligibility raises that total number to four in the history of the OVAC Hall of Fame. Other first-ballot inductees include: Sam Andy (Wheeling Park Basketball coach) and Jose Davis (Bellaire High athlete).

THE CLASS of 2001 becomes eligible for consideration in next year’s class.

THE NINTH OVAC Hall of Fame class will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012.

Staskey can be reached at