Volunteers deserve a little praise

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the privilege of helping coach a youth basketball team at the Belington Civic Center.

The experience has been a real eye-opener for me. Growing up, I don’t think I appreciated the time and energy those involved in youth sports gave, which allowed myself and friends to participate in athletics year-round.

This winter, I’ve noticed volunteers who come to the gym early in the morning and don’t depart until late in the evening. They devote their Saturdays so our children have the opportunity to learn how to play the game of basketball.

I can’t mention them by name in fear of leaving somebody out. But as a parent, fan or just a spectator, you know who they are once you enter the gym.

This is not only at the Belington Civic Center but throughout our area, from the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA to facilities in the surrounding counties.

Many of them have dedicated years of service, not asking for anything in return.

With basketball leagues winding down, I urge you to take a minute of your time when you see one of these volunteers, whether it’s a coach, referee or organizer, and thank them.

They certainly deserve it.

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FRIENDLY FOES: While the weather outside on Saturday was cold, a heated but friendly rivalry was taking place on the West Virginia Wesleyan campus.

Buckhannon-Upshur’s Maggie Miller and Elkins High’s Samantha Hall were doing battle in the Region III swim meet.

The duo, who are friends out of the pool, finished one-two in the 100-yard freestyle, with Miller’s time of 54.11 just beating Hall’s effort of 54.22.

Miller and Hall, both juniors, have a history of close finishes. In the 2012 state meet, they shared the 50-yard freestyle title, both turning in identical times of 24.89.

Miller also broke her sister Courtney Miller’s meet record in the 100 backstroke on Saturday. Her time of 56.52 earned her All-American status.

Not to be outdone, Hall captured the 50 freestyle in a time of 24.88, and also was part of two regional champion relay teams – the 200 and 400 freestyles.

The two area swimmers should have another exciting showdown at the state meet, which begins Thursday at WVU’s Natatorium.

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WEATHER AND MILESTONES: I hate to bring up the subject of the weather up once again, but I’m going to anyway.

With all the cancellations, I fear some of our area athletes are going to be prevented from reaching milestones.

Nothing can be done to prevent the bad weather and postponements, and there are certainly more important issues to consider, but to become a 1,000-point scorer at the high school level nowadays is quite an achievement. It means the athlete has been dedicated to the sport throughout their high school years in most instances. The one player that comes to mind for me is Elkins’ Logan Phillips.

At last check, the senior was in reach of 900 points for his career. If the Tigers are able to play their final eight regular-season games, not including sectional and regional contests, Phillips should be able to reach the mark and become only the eighth player in school history to achieve this honor.

The late Roy Simms was the first player to do so, and as a sidenote, the seniors on this year’s EHS team, who were coached by Simms, paid tribute to him during Senior Night in a recent game against Buckhannon-Upshur.

It was a well-deserved and touching gesture by the players.