WHEELING - A well-known figure in valley athletic circles in a variety of roles; a coach who enjoyed tremendous success in three sports and a legendary member of the broadcast media are the first three selections for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame's Class of 2012.
Tom "Bear" Bechtel of Wheeling was selected as this year's inductee in the OVAC Family category; the late Burdell "Jimmy" Carey, who coached at Follansbee and Weir High, was tabbed in the special OVAC Contributor category; and Charles "Red" Donley, who made his mark in radio and television in both the Steubenville and Pittsburgh markets, was picked in the Media category.
Those three, along with several other individuals who will be announced in the coming weeks, will be formally inducted at the ninth annual OVAC Hall of Fame Banquet on Aug. 18 at WesBanco Arena.
Last week, the five "Legends of OVAC Schools" were announced - Tony Carna of Caldwell, Jim George of Smithfield, Carter Howell of Flushing, Dave Jones of Jewett-Scio and Kenny Mikes of Sistersville. These individuals, who made their mark either before the conference was established in 1943 or before their school joined the OVAC, will also be honored at the banquet.
The Robinson Auto Group serves as sponsor of the OVAC Hall of Fame, which along with the OVAC Museum is on permanent display inside WesBanco Arena.
Here's a look at the Hall of Fame selections in the OVAC Family, Contributor and Media categories:
Tom (Bear) Bechtel (Wheeling Central High School, Class of 1969). Commissioner, director, officialBechtel wears many hats in the athletic realm, and he wears them well.
He is a long-time member of the OVAC Softball Committee, currently serving as the OVAC Softball Commissioner and has been Game Director of the annual Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic since 2005.
As an official, Bechtel has worked area high school softball, basketball and football games dating back to 1974. He founded the Ohio Valley Board of Softball Umpires, serving as secretary for 31 years; was an Ohio Valley Officials Board officer for more than 20 years; and has officiated football playoff games in Ohio and West Virginia for more than 20 years. He has worked 26 state tournaments in softball and six state championship games in football.
He also umpires softball in the West Virginia Conference.
In 1990, he became the first West Virginia recipient of the National Federation of State High School Associations' Officials Award.
Bechtel has been director of the City of Wheeling Recreation Department since 1974, actively promoting various youth sports activities. He founded the Wheeling Recreation Summer Basketball League which has grown to more than 100 teams; organized the annual Wheeling Basketball Shootout which has brought numerous high profile athletes to the area; and oversees the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex which hosts more than 2,000 baseball and softball games annually.
A basketball and baseball player at Wheeling Central High, he graduated from Wheeling College in 1973 and served as an assistant basketball coach there from 1974-78.
He has served as a color analyst for WTRF-TV on football and basketball broadcasts; worked as a radio announcer for basketball games; and was the public address announcer at Wheeling Jesuit University home basketball games. He is also director of the annual Undo's Catholic Basketball Tournament in Wheeling.
Bechtel received the Robert S. McKelvey Memorial Award from the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Club in 2008.
Burdell (Jimmy) Carey (Follansbee High School, Class of 1923). He is the only coach in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference and the state of West Virginia to win state championships in three sports football, basketball and baseball.
Carey got his first taste of coaching with 10 years at his alma mater, Follansbee High, before moving to Weir High to assist OVAC Hall of Famer Carl Hamill and begin a 25-year Red Rider career.
Carey coached Weir to W. Va. Class AAA football titles in 1957 (11-0), 1960 (10-1) and 1961 (10-1) and his 1958 team was 9-1, losing only to eventual state champion Parkersburg. In six seasons (1956-61), his teams posted a 52-11 record and won two OVAC Class AAA championships (1957 and 1958).
In basketball, Carey coached Weir for 13 seasons (1956-68), compiling a record of 178-115. His teams made the W. Va. Class AAA title game three straight years, winning in 1963 with a record of 20-5. The 1962 team was 24-1 and the 1964 team had a 23-2 record. Overall, his Red Rider hoop teams won seven sectional titles, five regional crowns and made four state tournament appearances while also winning two OVAC championships (1962 and 1964).
In baseball, he guided Weir to five state tournament berths and the one-class W. Va. state championship in 1959 while also winning four straight OVAC titles.
Carey was selected the West Virginia All-Sport Coach of the Year in 1958. He is a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame; the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Hall of Fame and the Weir High Hall of Fame.
Weir High named its football stadium in his honor.
At Follansbee High, Carey was a multi-sport athlete who went on to play three sports (football, basketball and baseball) at George Washington University before transferring and graduating from West Liberty State College.
Charles (Red) Donley (Wellsburg High School, Class of 1941). An early pioneer of radio and television broadcasting in the Ohio Valley, Donley got his start at WSTV-AM radio in 1946 where he served as play-by-play announcer for high school football and basketball games and was the station's sports director.
In 1954, when WTSV-TV Channel 9 (now WTOV) went on the air, Donley became the sports director and soon thereafter, was selected to work with Joe Tucker on Pittsburgh Steelers' broadcasts, a position he held from 1955-62.
He also announced horse racing at both Wheeling Downs and Waterford Park from 1949-56.
In 1960, he left to become sports director at Channel 11 in Pittsburgh, a position he had for 10 years.
During his days in Pittsburgh, Donley won five "Golden Quill" awards for distinguished news coverage, including one for a documentary he wrote and narrated on the late Art Rooney and two others (on Roberto Clemente and Pie Traynor) that are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1962, he was named to succeed legendary Ray Scott as play-by-play announcer for the University of Pittsburgh.
Donley rejoined Channel 9 in Steubenville in 1972 as news director and remained there until his retirement in 1988.
Donley received the President's Media Award from what was then the College of Steubenville in 1989; received an honorary degree from Jefferson Technical College in 1987 and an honorary bacalaureat degree from the College of Steubenville ini 1989; was the recipient of the Upper Ohio Valley Dapper Dan Club's Robert S. McKelvey Award in 1991; and was inducted into the Ohio AP Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2006.
He also participated in many charitable projects including the United Way and Easter Seals and made countless appearances as a master of ceremonies at community events. His many contributions were recognized at a testimonial dinner in his honor back in 1979.
The road leading to the current WTOV-TV9 hilltop studio in Steubenville is named "Red Donley Drive" in his honor.
A World War II veteran who served in the Marine Corps, Donley passed away in 1998.