As my wife and I recently listened to the voice of longtime Wheeling Park Coach Sam Andy extolling the pluses and minuses of the Park's successful basketball efforts against Preston County, W.Va., I thought of how fortunate we are to have WKKX broadcasting the Park and Wheeling Central ballgames. Coach Sam was joined on the air by his long-time friend and sometimes foe, Nick Bedway, a name familiar to the valley sports fans and regarded as one of the top sports writers to ever "travel down the lane" and I might add, a Wheeling Central graduate of the Class of 1958.
As the father of an All-State basketball player at Wheeling Central in 1991 (Tom Burgoyne Jr.) and the uncle of another All-State basketball player in 1991( Suzie Dailer), who went on to become the National Women's Three Point Champion, I recalled the great atmosphere that always surrounded the anticipation of the Wheeling Central-Park basketball rivalry every year. It was always billed as the David vs. Goliath match-up and every once in a while and always to the chagrin of Coach Andy, David rose up and beat Goliath with his sling-shot or maybe a three point shot. Athletes and fans from both schools always looked forward to these winter games but ... Alas!!
This year there will be no lights turned on either at the Palace on the Hill or at WesBanco Arena for this great show. As a matter of fact, neither boys' nor girls' basketball will be played together by these two schools, anywhere. It is my understanding that after the schedules were printed and distributed, Central officials received notification from Wheeling Park officials that not only would there be no basketball but that Park was canceling competition between all other sports - volleyball, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer and golf. As one can imagine, coaches had to scramble to find replacement teams in addition to the disappointment among athletes from both schools and their supporters that came when the rivalry was upended.
We, as fans of Wheeling Central and Wheeling Park, should not allow this unprofessional and childish behavior to continue. I feel sure it was not Coach Daugherty or Coach Jebbia who became the deciding voices in this decision. I ask both Park and Central fans to make their own inquiries as to why this traditional rivalry and competition had to end and if ever, thought will be given to put aside this decision that was made by some administrator who should shoulder the blame for "taking the air" out of this game. Thank you.