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The 1970 Charleston High football team defeated Clarksburg Victory in the AAA title game on Nov. 14, 1970.

There are many reasons why parents encourage their children to participate in athletics. One of the many benefits is the lifelong bond that exists among teammates.

That bond exists even long after schools have closed. In our region, I still see the bond among ex-athletes from schools that have long been closed, such as Barboursville, Dunbar, DuPont, East Bank, Gauley Bridge, Milton, Montgomery and Stonewall Jackson.

Recently, I experienced the bond that still exists among teammates from Charleston High. Sadly that classic building closed over 30 years ago, yet the bond of teammates is still there.

Earlier this month, my dear friend and former Charleston High football player Rex Repass lost his wife. It was unexpected and sudden. Repass graduated from Charleston in 1972 and was a member of the football teams that won Class AAA state titles in 1969 and 1970 under Frank Vincent.

I have been close with Repass since the fall of 1973 when we both lived in Hodges Hall and were in journalism school together at Marshall.

We were both products of the 1960s sports era in the Kanawha Valley. We both saw Roger Hart and Henry Dickerson play at Morris Harvey. We both remember the glory days of the WVIAC tournament. We both marveled at Charleston’s Curt Price and Dunbar’s Melvin Walker. We both remember when Charleston felt like a big city.

When I left the state in the mid-1980s to experience life as a broadcaster and administrator in a national athletic program, Rex also left Charleston to go to Cincinnati. He also wanted to prove himself on a bigger stage and to raise his four daughters in a higher growth area. Rex and I were in each other’s weddings. Our bond is deep and strong.

On Oct. 13, we buried Theresa Smith Repass. It still feels like a bad dream. This past weekend, many of Rex’s teammates and I knew that our friend would be experiencing a lonely weekend as all of the guests had left town.

We did not want Rex to be alone, so last Saturday his Charleston High schoolmates — Steve Morton, Ricky Hurt, Mike Carey and I — spent a college football Saturday with Rex. Morton was the Marshall Player of the Year in 1975, Hurt won the Kennedy Award in 1970 and played at Cincinnati, Carey won the Gazette’s West Virginian of the Year as a U.S. attorney in 1989.

We watched football from noon until midnight, ate lots of unhealthy fried food and told many stories. We busted each other’s chops and we laughed non-stop, The bottom line is that we took care of our dear friend.

My church has a saying that No One Should Do Life Alone. Fifty years after playing together at Charleston High, Rex’s friends will not let him do life alone. The bond of teammates is strong. The wins and losses fade over time. The teammate bond never goes away.

Contact Frank Giardina at