WHEELING - Some of you will recall a story two years ago leading up to what was then called the Friends of Coal Classic football extravaganza, about Brandon Martin, a lineman for national powerhouse Lakeland, Fla. Martin, just a sophomore at the time was battling an injury.
As it turned out, Martin's mother, Staci, is a Wheeling native and he has family both here in town and across the river in Ohio.
Fast forward to this year, and Brandon Martin is fully recovered from having torn his ACL, MCL and meniscus, and is playing NCAA Division III football at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., which is located less than an hour away from Wheeling.
In addition to his friends and family, a 5-foot-10, 260-pound offensive lineman, also has a former Lakeland teammate nearby in Pittsburgh. That would be Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl rookie center Maurkice Pouncey.
''It's been a great journey for Brandon and it's come full circle for him,'' Staci said. ''When many told him he wouldn't be able to play football on the college level, he's doing it in a place that feels like home with friends and family nearby.
''It was comforting to me, as a parent, to send him to college a thousand miles away knowing that family would be there to look out for him as he starts his college football career.''
Speaking of College
Congratulations are in order for a pair of Jefferson County athletes, as Indian Creek's Niko Otto and Steubenville Catholic's Teddi Maslowski have settled on on collegiate destinations.
Otto, arguably the finest linebacker the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference had to offer last season, cast his lost recently with Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. Otto will be going to school on a full ride, which will be half athletic scholarship, and half academic.
Maslowski, meanwhile, will go down as one of the Ohio Valley's all-time track and field greats, and she's got a house full of medals to prove it. Those honors no doubt caught the eye of Duke University, where Maslowski will learn and compete for the next four years.
Way to make the area proud, guys!
Franciscan Drops Baseball
Franciscan University in Steubenville recently made what turned out to be a not-so-difficult decision to drop the school's baseball program, in part to more align itself with Title IX.
Instituted in 1972, Title IX requires schools to provide participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment as full-time undergraduate students. Therefore, Franciscan could not add another men's sport without causing compliance issues.
Based on research, Franciscan has decided to start a women's swimming and diving program in 2011-2012, and then add men's and women's lacrosse in the next 2-3 years.
''We have heard many students express a desire to study at Franciscan and play lacrosse or take part in swimming and diving,'' Franciscan vice president of enrollment Joel Reznik said in a release by the school. ''Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport around the country both on the high school and college levels.
''It is also of high interest to our prospective female students as well as our male students.
Ritchie County Gets Its Man
Just down the road, the Ritchie County football program has made a noteworthy hire with the addition of Mike Dawson, a former West Virginia University and Magnolia High School standout.
''We are very excited for this hire and glad to have someone of Coach Dawson's character in our system,'' Ritchie County athletics director Patrick Allen said.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net