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Koch, Nese, Mountain Selected for OVAC Hall of Fame

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bob Koch — best known as the long-time athletic director at Cameron High School and as the director of the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game; John Nese — who made his mark as a coach, official and broadcaster in the Steubenville area; and Ohio Valley media legend Jimmy Mountain are the latest additions to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016. Koch is being recognized in the OVAC Family category; Nese as an OVAC Contributor and Mountain posthumously as a member of the Media. Those three will be among the honorees at the 13th annual OVAC Hall of Fame Banquet which returns to WesBanco Arena in Wheeling on Saturday, Aug. 13. Previously named to the Class of 2016 as athletes were Jay Handlan of Triadelphia (1940s); Eddie Becker of Wheeling and Neil Habig of Wheeling Central (1950s); Robbie Munn of Bridgeport and Ben Wiley of Powhatan (1960s); Jim Wood of Steubenville Catholic and Jim Woofter of Oak Glen (1970s); Kim Augur of East Liverpool and Dave Delande of St. Clairsville (1980s); Jodi Bates of Meadowbrook and Matt Powell of Barnesville (1990s); and Zach Amedro of John Marshall and Kacie Vavrek of Bellaire (2000s). The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by Robinson Auto Group, and the OVAC Museum are located at WesBanco Arena. In two weeks, the Coaches and Officials selections will be announced followed two weeks after that by the “Legends” of OVAC member schools. Here’s a look at this week’s selections: Bob Koch (John Marshall High School, Class of 1971). Back in 2009 when he retired from Cameron High School, Koch offered a telling quote: “My goal has always been to leave this a better place than it was when I found it.” In Koch’s case, everywhere he’s been and everyone he’s known has been better for it…and that certainly includes every corner of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference. His association with the conference dates back to 1981 when began helping with the hands-on calculations of the scores at the OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Tournament, a role he filled for the next 30 years until the results were computerized. At that point, he continued to assist by working the bullpen area. He received the OVAC Tournament Service Award in 1998 and the OVAC Tournament Director’s Award in 2014. Koch has been on the OVAC Executive Board – the governing body of the bi-state conference – since 1989, first as the Class A representative and then as the Game Director of the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game. It’s in that role – one he assumed in 2001 - that he has shined above all others due to the vast undertaking of the event from the selection of coaches and players, coordinating the week-long camp which is currently at Bethany College to all of the game-related activities which take place the week of the game. Respected for his opinions and his knowledge of the history of the conference, Koch has also been a member of the OVAC Hall of Fame Committee and the OVAC Museum Committee for several years. Koch graduated from West Virginia University and later obtained his master’s degree in math education there. He spent one year at Martins Ferry High before moving on to Cameron where he began a 33-year career as a math teacher. He assumed the role of athletic director in 1989 and spent the next 20 years guiding the Dragons’ athletic programs to countless successes and facilities upgrades before retiring in 2009. Koch also spent several years as an assistant wrestling coach at CHS under the highly-successful Jim Potts. He served as co-chairman of the Friends of Cameron Football event for six years, and was a special honoree of that group in 2015 for his contributions. John Nese (East Pittsburgh High School, Class of 1956). Teacher…coach….official…broadcaster. He’s done them all. While spending 54 years in the education field, Nese coached boys/girls basketball and baseball; followed that up with a fine officiating career and all the while worked as a radio broadcaster. In basketball, he began his coaching career at Follansbee St. Anthony (1960-61), winning the W. Va. Class B State Catholic Championship with a 17-5 record. After two years (1961-63) as an assistant at East Pittsburgh High – his alma mater – he came to Steubenville Catholic Central where he coached the boys’ team 10 years (1963-73) with a 121-87 record; three sectional titles, three district titles and one OVAC championship (1973) when his squad compiled a 22-2 overall record – the best in school history – led by fellow Hall of Famer Jim Wood. He later returned to the hardwood as the Steubenville Catholic girls’ coach (1987-90), posting a 56-10 record with two sectional titles; two OVAC crowns (1988 and ‘89) and the school’s best record (21-2 in ‘89). He closed out his hoops’ coaching with the Indian Creek junior high girls’ team (1995-2007) where he won an additional 116 games against 40 losses. He was named Coach of the Year multiple times in the Eastern District and District 5 and was selected as the co-coach of the United States All-Stars for the 1973 Dapper Dan Roundball Classic in Pittsburgh. In baseball, Nese coached Steubenville Catholic from 1963-75 with a sparkling 197-77 record. His teams won seven sectionals, five districts and one regional, finishing as the state runner-up to Shaker Heights in 1965. His 1974 squad posted a school-best 24-4 overall mark. After retiring from coaching, Nese wanted to remain close to high school athletics and became a baseball/softball umpire. He was a respected member of that profession as well, and was honored to work in 10 consecutive OHSAA State Softball Tournaments. He also served as an instructor with the Steubenville Umpires Association. Nese also had a 30-plus year career as a WSTV radio play-by-play announcer and color commentator, working countless football, basketball and American Legion baseball games. This marks Nese’s sixth Hall of Fame selection. He’s also in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association (1981), the East Boros Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (1986); the OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame (1996); the District 5 Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2006); and the Franciscan University Hall of Fame (2008). At East Pittsburgh (Pa.) High, Nese was a three-year letterman and co-captain of the Class B Pennsylvania state runner-up. He graduated from the College of Steubenville in 1960 where he was a four-year letterman and a member of the No. 1-ranked small college basketball team (1957-58) and team co-captain as a senior. He obtained his master’s degree from the University of Dayton in 1974. James A. “Jimmy” Mountain (St. John Central High School, Class of 1931). You might say he “looked down from the mountain” as far as Ohio Valley journalists were concerned. Mountain chronicled the events of the area – both in and out of the athletic realm – with particular emphasis on the Bellaire area, but he was well-known up and down the river for his writing style of accentuating the positive as well as his legendary entertaining and informative columns during nearly a half century. A two-sport athlete (football and basketball) at St. John’s, he began his journalistic career right out of high school working for Greater Wheeling Home Talk and the Martins Ferry Daily Times. He served as Sports Editor for what became The Times Leader until he was called into military service in 1941 during World War II, and upon his return he began a lengthy tenure as head of the Bellaire Bureau of that newspaper. Although his primary focus shifted to news, he continued to cover sporting events and was a fixture at Nelson Field football games involving both Bellaire and St. John Central under media legends Bill Van Horne and Cal Pokas. An amateur boxer and a talented softball pitcher, Mountain had a life-long passion for American history. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi – journalism’s honorary fraternity – and received several honors including the first Man of the Year from the Bellaire Lodge 310 Chechoslovak Society of America; the Citizen of the Year from the Bellaire Fraternal Order of Police Associates; and was tabbed an honorary graduate of Bellaire High School and was selected for that school’s Wall of Fame. He also served as Clerk of Council for the city of Bellaire. He passed away on July 24, 1988 at the age of 74.
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