The man who has become the ''go-to guy'' of the conference and two individuals who have helped promote the student-athletes of the Ohio Valley through their respective media outlets are the first three selections for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame's Class of 2013.
Thomas E. Rataiczak was selected as this year's inductee in the OVAC Family category; Tim McCoy was tabbed in the special OVAC Contributor category; and Richard ''Hoot'' Gibson was picked in the Media category.
Those three, along with several other individuals who will be announced in the coming weeks, will be formally inducted at the 10th annual OVAC Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, Aug. 17 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
The Robinson Auto Group serves as sponsor of the OVAC Hall of Fame which, along with the OVAC Museum, is on permanent display inside WesBanco Arena.
Here's a look at the OVAC Hall of Fame selections in the Family, Contributor and Media categories:
''Rat'' has been the de facto head of the OVAC as Executive Secretary since 1999, and under his leadership, the bi-state conference has grown to an all-time high of 50 member schools from Ohio and West Virginia.
During Rataiczak's watch, the Conference has grown by leaps and bounds in a variety of areas. Among them have been the formation of the OVAC Hall of Fame and the OVAC Sports Museum; instituting boys' and girls' basketball tournaments and expanding many of the other events, most notably the revised format of the track championships; creating an All-Conference Academic Team in conjunction with Ohio University Eastern; the creation of an official OVAC website; standardizing all championship awards; developing a meet director's handbook; computerizing all financial accounts; providing countless SportsWorld speakers to the area for more than 600 school assemblies, raising more than $250,000 to bring them in at no cost to the conference; and placing the conference on solid financial ground through a partnership with Scholastic Sports Marketing.
A retired Bellaire High School teacher, he served as a ''Founding Father'' and Director of the BHS Sports Foundation and has been chairman of the Bellaire Wall of Fame/Hall of Fame Committee for more than 20 years.
Rataiczak has been the Big Reds' basketball scorekeeper for 43 years, working at more than 1,700 consecutive varsity and junior varsity games. In fact, the OVAC's Scorekeeper/Timer Award presented annually at the Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic is named in his honor.
He has also served more than 30 years as the BHS record-keeper, publishing extensive media guides for both football and basketball.
The recipient of the Bellaire Alumni Association's Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1992, he graduated from West Liberty State College and obtained a master's degree from West Virginia University.
He received the Robert S. McKelvey Award from the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Club in 2010 and his most recent undertaking was being elected to the Bellaire Board of Education in 2012.
Those efforts have helped give thousands of area high school athletes tremendous exposure, with countless thousands of viewers able to watch the valley's best perform in the athletic realm.
Among the many highlights has been live TV coverage of various all-star contests, most notably the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Charity Football Classic from Wheeling Island Stadium and the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Championships from WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. At one time, WTOV-TV9 also aired the Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic.
Other events include the football ''Game of the Week'' broadcasts ; in-depth preseason football team previews and the ''Big 22'' awards banquet in December. WTOV-TV9 also has an extensive internet football supersite available.
McCoy became Vice-President and General Manager of WTOV-TV9 in 1994. Prior to that, he served as the station's Operations Manager for six years.
He began his career in television as a Production Technician at WNEO-TV in Kent from 1979-82. He first joined WTOV as a Promotion Producer from 1982-85 and then spent two years at NBC affiliate WLEX-TV in Lexington, Kentucky as Promotions and Creative Services Director where he received to ADDY awards.
McCoy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting and Political Science from Kent State University in 1982.
Gibson has written countless columns covering high school, college and professional sports and instituted the All-Times Leader teams in all high school sports.
He has covered OVAC contests in nearly every sport and at most conference schools over the years, including OVAC All-Star games in every sport.
Gibson has been seen at countless sporting events not only locally, but around the country. He's covered several NCAA men's basketball Final Four games, many World Series and MLB All-Star Games, 10 Super Bowls and 18 college football bowl games. He's also authored countless stories on the Ohio State Buckeyes and the West Virginia Mountaineers and served one year as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He received the OHSAA Media Service Award for the Eastern District in 2000 and has won several Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association awards over the years.
Gibson was also a freelance writer for several years for Basketball Weekly magazine based out of Detroit, Michigan.
Gibson, who attended Harding University in Arkansas, also spent several years as a local baseball, basketball and volleyball official and served as manager of the Fairpoint-Neffs ballclub of the Ohio Valley Baseball League.
He served three years in the United States Navy (1976-78), working in communications for Command 6th Fleet Europe while stationed in Italy and touring both Europe and northern Africa.