A Father's Day salute to West Virginia sports dads

By Frank Giardina
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Father's Day, here is my tribute to some West Virginia sports dads I am thinking of today.
  • Bobby Bowden - He hasn't coached here in almost 40 years, but Bowden still continues to have an impact in our state. His children consider West Virginia home and he often comes back to our state to speak at churches and various fund-raising events. When he was busy coaching at WVU, he still found time to make sure his family and children were in church on Sunday and he even taught a college Sunday School class. He has always stayed in touch with our state.
  • Jack Cook - He is one of our state's all-time great baseball coaches. He won state titles at Huntington High in 1961, 1964 and 1966, when baseball was all one class and state titles were difficult to win. He also coached Marshall baseball in 1955 and from 1967-89, winning 422 games and going to two NCAA tournaments. His 1978 Marshall team was one win away from going to the College World Series. He had many victories on the field, but he never forgot his role as a husband and a dad. 
  • Robert Hayes - The unsung hero of Marshall football, Hayes was the school's president from 1974-83. He made his vision for the Marshall Medical School happen. Also, when many were calling for Marshall to drop football in the 1970s, Hayes continued to lay the foundation for growing the program. The Herd started winning in 1984 and the rest is history. Hayes also had incredible success as a dad, raising three children, Steve, Ruthann and Mark. Mark is a local attorney and area soccer official.
  • Oliver Luck and Mike Hamrick - It's not easy being a dad when you're the athletic directors at a major state university. West Virginia's Luck and Marshall's Hamrick work 24/7, 365 days a year and travel extensively. Moreover, every fan in the state thinks he or she can do your job and doesn't mind giving you advice. Yet these guys find time to raise their families. Hamrick has three children and his youngest daughter, Molly, is heading to grad school at Kentucky. Luck has four children and his work internationally has allowed his children to see the world. His son, Andrew, of course, is one of the great young quarterbacks in the NFL. He also has two daughters at Stanford, and one plays volleyball.
  • Craig Lyle - Lyle was an outstanding football player as an offensive lineman at Penn State in the early 1970s. After college, he took a job as an engineer in the Kanawha Valley and raised his family in Poca. His sons David, Seth and Tim played on state championship teams at Poca. All were college athletes. David ran track at Marshall, Seth played football at Marshall and Tim played basketball at James Madison.
  • Nick Saban Sr. - The world knows Nick Saban Jr., the football coach at Alabama and one of the great coaches of all time. You may not know the story of his father, who impacted many lives of kids in coal-camp Marion County. He started a Pop Warner football team in his area, bought a bus and drove around every day picking up kids for practice in the communities of IdaMay, Monongah, Farmington, Carolina and Number Nine. After practice he would take them all home. Among those he coached were his son, Nick Jr., Kerry Marbury and Joe Manchin. Sadly, he died of a heart attack when Nick Jr. was a freshman at Kent State.  His love and football legacy live on in the incredible coaching life of his son.
  • Reach Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.  
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