Frank Giardina: There’s nothing like a West Virginia mom

For many years, I have said to anyone who will listen that there is something special about West Virginia moms. The more I have lived and traveled around the country, I remain convinced that there is nothing quite like a West Virginia mom.

With that in mind, here is a tribute to some special West Virginia sports moms on this Mother’s Day weekend.

CINDY BAILEY — This West Virginia mom has been a teacher and a coach for 40 years. As a teacher, she has taken her junior high and middle school students at DuPont to academic competitions in Washington, D.C., Charleston, S.C., Atlanta, Williamsburg, Va., New Orleans and New York City. As a coach, she has been incredible. It is easy and fun for coaches to coach great talent at powerhouse programs. That has not always been the case for the girls programs in the eastern end of the Kanawha Valley. Yet she has coached volleyball and track because she loved the kids in that area and wanted them to learn confidence, physical fitness and how to compete. Her career volleyball record was 141-61. When no one else would coach track, she stepped up and did it. Our state is losing the finest educators I have ever known when Cindy Bailey retires from DuPont Middle School next week. West Virginia moms make incredible teachers.

DOTTIE GANDEE — The ageless Gandee has been a fixture at Herbert Hoover athletics and state championship events for many years. She is easily the most popular official at the state high school track meet. She was the wife of former Huskies basketball coach Carlton Gandee. “Dottie helped my dad run the state track meet for many years,” said Mike Hamrick, a former Hoover athlete and current Marshall athletic director. “Then she took over the meet when my dad went to the SSAC office. She was a wonderful lady and a great mother to her four boys and all of their friends. She was like a second mother to me. She knows more about basketball than most coaches in the state. In my opinion, she is the first lady of high school sports in West Virginia.”

PATTY REDMAN — A career nurse and mother of two, this West Virginia mom has a great love for country. Her husband, Roger, served with distinction in the military. Her two sons, Andy and Dustin, were multi-sport athletes at DuPont and Riverside high schools, respectively, and now serve our country with honor in all points of the world. You name it, they have been there — Afghansistan, Africa, South America, etc. The unsung hero of the family has been mom. West Virginia moms can be great patriots also.

JONNIE SHEPLER — The mother of former Charleston Catholic athlete and coach, Ashley, Jonnie Shepler was known for her team hospitality. When Ashley was playing, the Shepler home was the place to be for food, games, sleepovers and team bonding. When it was time to leave, no one wanted to go. West Virginia moms are known for hospitality.

JOHNNA SNODGRASS — It is not easy being a wife to a coach, administrator and official. You have to have very thick skin. Johnna is the wife to long-time coach and administrator, Joe Snodgrass, and mother to Thad, Suzanne and Shannon. Her two daughters are very successful. Shannon started a sports training program that has impacted numerous student athletes in Kanawha County for over 30 years. The family also endured an unimaginable tragedy. Just before Christmas of 1978, they lost Thad as a junior in high school when he was hit by a drunk driver. He had just played in a state championship football game and should have been enjoying a pre-Christmas party. What a young man he was and what a credit to his mom and dad. Had we not lost him, he might have been President or Governor. He has never been forgotten and the eastern end of the valley still mourns his passing. Sadly, West Virginia moms have always dealt with their share of tragedy. Credit a West Virginia mom for helping keep her family together during a time of incredible loss.

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