VICTORY AWARDS DINNER.
The Ohio Valley will have a major presence at the nation's oldest statewide sports fete.
The 65th annual VAD, sponsored by the 79-year-old W. Va. Sports Writers Association, will be held Sunday, May 1 at the Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg.
And Ohio Valley athletes and coaches will be on the receiving end of several honors and awards.
At least three of the major awards will go to area athletes and that number might increase the next couple of weeks when the state College and High School Coaches of the Year are announced.
For the second straight year, West Liberty University quarterback ZACH AMEDRO will receive both the Hardman Award as Amateur Athlete of the Year and the Baisi Award as the top W.Va. product in West Virginia Conference football. Amedro is a former John Marshall High School athlete.
Amedro will share the 2010 Hardman Award with ex-West Virginia University basketball All-American DA'SEAN BUTLER, who is currently playing pro basketball in San Antonio, Texas.
Two major high school football awards will be given to Magnolia quarterback JUSTIN FOX and Brooke linebacker RYAN LAZEAR. Fox will receive the Kennedy Award as state Player of the Year. Lazear will be given the SAM HUFF Award as the state's top defensive player.
Six state championship coaches from the Ohio Valley also will be feted.
They include Magnolia football coach MARK BATTON, Wheeling Central football coach MIKE YOUNG, Wheeling Park golf coach DON HEADLEY and three Weirton Madonna mentors - boys' basketball coach GEORGE VARGO, baseball pilot JEFF BAIRE and golf coach T. J. BRANCAZIO.
Also, 21 first team football, boys' and girls' basketball all-state selections will be honored.
By school, they are:
Magnolia - Fox, MATT RIGGS, TRAEH KELLER, STEPHEN ROGALSKI, MARK WINTERS and PADYN LUDEWIG.
Wheeling Central - MARCUS CLIFFORD, JOHN DUPLAGA, TYLER JACOVETTY and AARON SCHNEID.
Bishop Donahue - RYAN JONES, JORDAN ANGALICH, KALEB KUCERA and KYLE GILLIS.
Weirton Madonna - CONNOR ARLIA and CLAY ROKISKY.
Brooke - Lazear and JOEY DINARDO.
Wheeling Park - BUBBY GOODWIN and EMILY PUSKARICH.
Oak Glen - CHANCE ROWLAND.
Also, a Wheeling native and former Intelligencer sports staffer RICK RYAN will be feted. The Charleston Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor will receive the GENE MOREHOUSE Award for distinguished sports service and contributions.
The event is open to the public and advance tickets are available at most state daily newspaper sports departments including The Intelligencer & News-Register. No tickets will be sold at the door.
FEEL GOOD STORY.
With all the negatives involving pro sports on the current scene, it's always good to hear a positive one involving a play-for-pay athlete.
Former West Virginia University kicker-punter PAT McAFEE, currently the Indianapolis Colts punter, heard about a boy who played football in the same Pittsburgh-area youth league, Plum, that got him started in the sport. The boy suffered a concussion in a game and tests revealed a benign cyst on his brain. NIKO O'TOOLE was told he could never compete in contact sports.
When McAfee learned of the situation, he not only gave his two Super Bowl tickets which are allotted to every NFL player, to the boy but added $1,000 for trip expenses to his family. Niko and his father attended the Super Bowl.
Thanks to the BOB LUCHETTI family of Triadelphia for passing along this ''good news'' story.
Enjoy the spring weekend.