Thursday, April 5, 2018

        A long-time member of the “family” who has worn several different hats; a highly-successful coach who also contributed to the conference beyond the bench and a long-time member of the media are the latest additions to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.
        Ron White has been selected as this year’s OVAC ‘Family’ honoree; the late Earl Haberfield was tabbed as an OVAC ‘Contributor’; and John Simonson gained the nod as the Media representative for this year’s class which will be honored at the 15th annual OVAC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 18 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
        The OVAC “hall”, which is sponsored by the Robinson Auto Group, is on display at WesBanco Arena as part of the expansive OVAC Museum.
        Previously announced members of this year’s class were Bob Plotz of Martins Ferry (1940s), Robert Pritchard of Wheeling and Geno Sessi of St. Clairsville (1950s); Don Osby of Steubenville and Bill Tucker of Weir (1960s); Ron Lee of Bellaire and Keith Vrotsos of Martins Ferry (1970s); Georgia Dawson of Bellaire and Ron Stephens of Linsly (1980s); Eric McGhee of Wheeling Central and Kelly Shields of Edison (1990s); and Zach Collaros of Steubenville and Adam Hoppel of Beaver Local (2000s).
        In two weeks, the final selections for the “hall” for 2018 will be announced in the coaches and officials categories and then two weeks later, the five choices as “Legends of OVAC Schools” – honoring individuals who excelled either before the OVAC came into existence in 1943 or before their school joined the conference – will be revealed.
        Here’s a look at the latest selections:
        Ron White (Springfield Local High School, Class of 1966). A member of the OVAC Executive Board for many years, his “baby” for 23 years was one of the conference showcase events – the OVAC Banquet of Champions. White served as chairman until 2016 of the gala which featured more than 700 attendees honoring 75 championship teams, 50 scholarship winners and the conference coach of the year presentation.
        White is also an integral part of the conference in basketball, serving as the assistant basketball commissioner for nine years and then being named the successor to the late John Howell as basketball commissioner beginning with the 2016-17 school year.
        He was a member of the Ohio Valley Board of Approved Basketball Officials, working on the courts in both Ohio and West Virginia for 30 years. He officiated five state tournaments in West Virginia and drew seven regional assignments in Ohio.
        White is also a well-respected track official, serving primarily as a starter and working at both the high school (Ohio and West Virginia) and collegiate levels (MEC and PSAC). He received the OVAC Cal Giffin Memorial Track Service Award in 2009.
        A 1971 graduate of West Liberty State College, he was an educator/administrator/coach in the Buckeye Local School District and was responsible for starting the track program at old Buckeye South High School.
        White, who resides in Wheeling, is also involved with the West Virginia “Super Six” state football championships which have become a fixture at Wheeling Island Stadium.
        Earl Haberfield (Wheeling Central Catholic High School, Class of 1954). He originated the OVAC Basketball Classic – the Ohio vs. West Virginia all-star game now called the OVAC Samuel A. Mumley All-Star Basketball Classic – serving as the game director for the first five years of the event and as an active committee member for several years.
        He was the first recipient of the Coaches Award presented at that game in 1984 – an award renamed in his honor as the OVAC Earl Haberfield Coaches Award.
        Haberfield’s coaching career included several stops – both inside and outside the OVAC – and concluded with 382 career victories.
       He coached nine years at his alma mater – Wheeling Central – winning five W. Va. Class AA Catholic Championships. In 1963, the Maroon Knights were undefeated; ranked No. 1 in the all-division W. Va. State rankings and were the OVAC AAA champions.
         Haberfield coached two years at Bishop Donahue, leading the Bishops to the 1969 W. Va. Class A Catholic Championship; three years at Warren Local High, named Tri-Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 1970; one year at Crooksville, leading the Ceramics to the Ohio Class A Regional; five years at Wintersville, engineering a rebuilding of that program; and two years at Meadowbrook, leading the Colts to their best two-year won/loss record up to that point.
        Outside the OVAC, he coached at Vanlue and Amherst Marion Steele.
        He was also the co-founder of the District 5 Basketball Coaches Associaton All-Star Game in 1978 and served as the president of District 5 that year.
        Haberfield was awarded the Touchdown Club of Morgantown Certificate of Merit in 1963, ’64 and ’69 for contributions to West Virginia athletics; was given honorary memberships to the Ohio District Basketball Coaches Associations in Districts 3, 5 and 12; received an OVAC Certificate of Recognition for Exemplary Service in 1982; received the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Club of the Upper Ohio Valley’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in 1993; and was a charter member of the Wheeling Central Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017.
        Haberfield graduated from West Liberty State College in 1958 and was inducted into the West Liberty Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. A U.S. Navy veteran of the Korean War, he passed away in 2007.
        John Simonson (Beallsville High School, Class of 1966). A multi-media veteran, he has worked more than three decades in both radio and television covering football and boys’ basketball games as a play-by-play announcer in the OVAC.
        Simonson is well-known for his research and prep work regarding athletes and coaches prior to the broadcasts, compiling results, series records, coaching records, player statistics and other noteworthy information.
        Known as the “Ohio Valley Sports Doctor”, Simonson has served as an analyst for the WTOV TV9 “Game of the Week” and contributes to that station’s high school football “playoff watch”.
He also had a weekly sports talk show for 10-15 years on WWVA radio starting in 1988. While there, he earned the West Virginia Sportscaster of the Year award in 1997.
        Simonson has provided assistance over the years to both the OHSAA and WVSSAC football playoff computer ratings’ groups. He was a recipient of the East Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrator’s Media Award.
        He previously served as a voting member for the prestigious Heisman Trophy and many other awards including the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award; basketball’s Naismith and Wooden awards; and is an official donor to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown where he has a lifetime membership.
        A graduate of West Liberty State College, he served two years in the U.S. Army; was a teacher at Wheeling Park High School for 31 years (retiring in 2002); and served on the Union Local Board of Education.

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