OHIO VALLEY UNSUNG HEROES: DeLuca wears a lot of hats in OV sports
RAYLAND — On most nights, Rick DeLuca finds himself enjoying late nights.
A renaissance man in every sense of the word, DeLuca has been a force in promoting the achievements of Ohio Valley athletes for more than 50 years.
Through his work with the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, as a coach and as a sportswriter, DeLuca, through his words, on-field mentoring and behind-the-scenes doings, is a face almost everyone recognizes.
But not many might be aware of the hours he puts in.
There are 24 hours in a day, and DeLuca leaves no hour, no minute, no second left unused.
“I had someone ask me once, ‘When do you sleep?,'” DeLuca, a 2010 OVAC Hall of Famer, recalled with a chuckle. “Well, not much.”
That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he’s not far off. When one figures in all the time DeLuca puts in for his sports endeavors, not to mention his full-time job as a realtor, there’s not much spare time for much else.
And despite recent health issues that included heart surgery almost two years ago, DeLuca maintains a high-paced lifestyle that would have any big-city, high-rise office executive envious.
“When I was in the hospital, I sent Tom (former OVAC executive secretary, Rataiczak) a message,” DeLuca said. “I said, ‘I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, I’m going to have to have heart surgery. The good news is, I’ll be back in time for basketball season.'”
DeLuca, who missed most of that fall sports season, was in the hospital 28 days. Still, he found time to do some work while there, as well as after he was released and was undergoing rehab.
Most of that work was with the OVAC, where he’s an important cog in its operations. He compiles standings for almost all the sports. That’s a job in itself. He’s also director of the boys’ and girls’ basketball championships, the volleyball championships, and serves on committees for those and other sports. In addition, he’s played a role in the OVAC Museum inside WesBanco Arena in Wheeling and helps with the conference’s scholarship committee.
“Oh my gosh, I just do a little bit of everything,” he said.
DeLuca’s love of sports dates back to his days a student at Warren Consolidated, where he graduated in 1970. In 1969, he got up the nerve to enter The Times Leader office and ask sports editor Cal Pokas for a job. He was hired. The first football game he covered was, well, memorable to say the least.
“I came back and wrote the story and it took me about two hours,” he recalled. “I got done and handed it to Cal and he said, ‘Go back and type it.’ I had written it longhand.
“It took me another two hours to type it.”
DeLuca, who grew up working in his dad’s slaughterhouse in Jefferson County, soon got a knack for typewriters and, later, started coaching and working in real estate. He’s had baseball head coaching stops at Bridgeport and Buckeye Local and has assistant stints, too.
In real estate since 1995, DeLuca has served on various Ohio state boards and committees and, in November, will become a hall of famer in that vocation, too. Currently, he teaches real estate classes twice a week at Eastern Gateway in Steubenville.
“I just do a lot of things,” he said. “Sometimes, I think it’s maybe too much.”
Just when he thinks that, DeLuca goes out and writes a book — one that combines baseball and real estate — and has another in the works.
Throw in a few 5K walks now and then, and DeLuca is truly living life to the fullest and proving that, at almost 70, age is just a number.
“I like working,” he said. “I like writing. I like sports. I like real estate. I’ve just never backed away from anything.
“Everybody tells me the biggest problem I have is I don’t tell anybody no.”