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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two coaching icons – one in football and one in basketball - and an official who not only spent 40 years on the court but who also taught countless others how to become a referee are the latest additions to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017.
Selected in the Coaches category were Dave Caldwell of Beallsville and Terry Leggett of Buckeye Trail while this year’s Official is Roger Sowers. Leggett and Sowers will be honored posthumously at this year’s banquet which is slated Saturday, Aug. 19 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
In two weeks, the five “Legends of OVAC Schools” – individuals who played or coached either before the OVAC was formed in 1943 or before their school became a conference member – will be announced along with this year’s recipient of the OVAC Denny Magruder Distinguished Service Award.
The OVAC Hall of Fame display, sponsored by the Robinson Auto Group, is located in WesBanco Arena as part of the OVAC Museum.
Here’s a look at this week’s selections:
Dave Caldwell (Beallsville High School, Class of 1973). He proved the theory of “the little engine that could” by achieving a tremendous amount of success coaching football and one of the smallest schools around, compiling 197 victories during his 29 years as head coach of his alma mater.
Caldwell began his coaching career as an assistant at Caldwell High under Mike Devol and then returned “home” to Beallsville where he assisted J.B. Majors for two seasons (1981-82) . He was elevated to the head coaching post in 1993 and held that job until retiring in 2011.
Under Caldwell’s guidance, the Blue Devils won six Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class A championships (1988, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2011) and six Pioneer Valley Conference titles. Beallsville reached the OHSAA playoffs eight times (1994, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2001) and posted a playoff record of 5-8. That included a run to the Division VI, Region 23 championship and a spot in the state semifinals in 1994 and a career-capping 10-3 season in 2011 when BHS advanced to the D-VI, Region 23 title contest. Caldwell was tabbed “Coach of the Year” in the Eastern District and PVC multiple times and he coached in the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game five times (1989, 1993, 2001, 2005 and 2009) with a 2-3 record in the mid-summer classic.
Caldwell, who made a brief coaching return as an assistant at Shenandoah in 2014, also assisted in basketball and track during his time at Beallsville.
As an athlete, he was a three-sport performer at Beallsville High School (football, basketball and track), playing on the school’s first unbeaten football team in 1972. He went on to play football for four years at Muskingum College, earning his degree there in 1977 and later obtaining a master’s degree from Salem University.
Terry Leggett (Midvale High School, Class of 1965). The ultra-successful Leggett began his coaching career as an assistant at Skyvue High School and then was head coach there for two seasons (1973-74 and '74-75).
He went to old Zane Trace High School for the next two years ('75-76 and '76-77) and when that school consolidated with Madison High to become Buckeye Trail, Leggett was named the school's first coach.
His initial Warrior squad (1977-78) accomplished a remarkable feat, posting a perfect 18-0 regular season (21-1 overall) and winning the OVAC Class A championship, sectional and district titles and finishing runner-up in the regional, losing a 43-42 heartbreaker to Indian Valley South.
During his 12 years at Trail (he called it quits following the 1988-89 season), the Warriors never had a losing season and amassed an incredible 225-50 record. That included two trips to the OHSAA Class A "Final Four" -- his 1982-83 team went 25-1 and the 1986-86 team turned things around after a 4-5 start to make the state semifinals and finish 20-7. Leggett-coached Trail teams won nine sectional titles, five district crowns and two regional championships and he was named UPI Class A Ohio "Co-Coach of the Year" in 1983. His teams won OVAC titles four straight years ('78, '79, '80 and '81) and were state-ranked six times. He was named overall OVAC "Coach of the Year" in 1978 and was also a four-time District 12 "Coach of the Year" honoree. All told, his teams compiled a 268-92 record in 16 seasons.
He coached in the OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic three times and was an assistant coach in the Ohio North-South All-Star Game once.
A graduate of Findlay College, he served as an Eastern District Board member and was the Game Director of the District 12 Basketball All-Star Game for many years. He also served on the Rules Interpretation Committee of the OHSAA.
Inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, Leggett was also a physical education teacher and athletic director during his days at Buckeye Trail. He passed away in 2009.
Roger Sowers (Roseville High School, Class of 1952). He spent a number of years in various roles – coach, athletic director, guidance counselor, principal and instructor – but Sowers is probably best known as a long-time basketball official.
Sowers, who spent more than 30 years in education, began as a basketball coach, serving four years as head coach at Pleasant City High and seven years at Barnesville High, posting a combined 130-99 record.
He officiated his first varsity basketball game in 1959, and became a full-time referee in 1968 once his coaching days were over. He worked 40 years over five decades, including nearly a quarter of a century as a tournament official at the sectional, district and regional levels.
He was a charter member of the East Central Ohio Officials Association in the Cambridge area, serving as president, rules interpreter and on the executive board over the years. He also served as president of the Ohio Association of Basketball Officials.
Sowers, who also officiated at the college level in the Ohio Athletic Conference, spent 20-plus years teaching a basketball officiating course at Ohio University Eastern, with several of his former students later becoming high school and college officials.
He was inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Officials Hall of Fame in 1995; received a Distinguished Service Award from the District 12 Basketball Coaches Association and a Meritorious Award from the OHSAA in 1998 for 40 years of service. The Roger Sowers Memorial Scholarship was established by his family in 2000, with the yearly recipient a Barnesville High senior planning to attend Ohio University Eastern and major in education.
A Crooksville native, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Marietta College where he was a four-year letterman in baseball and a one-year letterman in basketball, and obtained his master’s degree from West Virginia University.
He passed away in 1998 at the age of 64.
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