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Then-head football coaches Don Nehlan (WVU, left) and Bobby Pruett (Marshall, right) sign autographs on June 26, 1997. The two coaches are a staple in West Virginia sports history.

Life is short and ever changing. For older sports fans, one of those changes is watching our sports heroes age. In our minds, we do not allow them to age. We still remember them as they played.

In our region, there are many athletes and coaches that we have admired. We will not have them forever. Appreciate them while you can. Here are the ages of some of the local and national sports figures that I am thinking of today.

WILLIE AKERS—It seems just yesterday that he was fresh out of WVU, coaching Logan to the 1964 AAA state basketball championship. He is now 83.

BOBBY BOWDEN—The amazing coaching legend is 90.

DANNY BUGGS— As a player, he was “Lightning” Buggs. He is now 67.

TONY CARIDI—The WVU network broadcaster is 57.

GALE CATLETT—It does not seem that long ago that Catlett was a young head coach at Cincinnati and he was in our city recruiting Mike “Twig” Jones from Charleston High. Now, Charleston High is gone, Jones is in his 60’s and Catlett is 79.

BIMBO COLES—The former Spartan, Hokie, Olympian and NBA star is 52.

DAN D’ANTONI—The Marshall basketball coach is 73. His brother, Mike, is 69. Neither look their age.

TONY DEMEO—The former U.C. football coach is 72.

JIM FOUT—The former DuPont athlete and coach is 72.

DANNY GODBY—The former Chapmanville Tiger and St. Louis Cardinal is 73.

NEIL AND BENNY HOPKINS—The cousins and upper Kanawha Valley coaching greats and former W. Va. Tech players are 71.

JEFF HOSTETLER—The WVU QB great is 59.

BOB HUGGINS—“Coach Huggs” is now 66.

CARL LEE—The former Minnesota Viking is 59.

RANDY MOSS—The Pro Football Hall of Famer is 43.

DON NEHLEN—His birthdate is New Year’s Day, the perfect birthday for a college football coach. The former WVU head coach is now 84.

DAVE PARKER—“The Cobra” and 1973 Charleston Charlie is 69.

BOB PRUETT—The former Marshall head football coach is 77.

MARY LOU RETTON—She will always look 6 to our state, but West Virginia’s sweetheart is now 52.

PETE ROSE—This area’s favorite Red is 79.

NICK SABAN—The Marion County native and Alabama football coach is 68.

CHRIS SMITH—The former Charleston High great, who is considered the best basketball post player in

Virginia Tech history, is 81.

MIKE SMITH — The former Burch coach is 65.

JOE SNODGRASS—He look 50, but the former DuPont coach is 79.

DARRYL TALLEY—The former WVU defensive great is now 60.

JERRY WEST—Our state’s most beloved athlete is 82.

GREG WHITE—He still looks like he did as a Mullens Rebel who once scored 50 in a game against Trap Hill. He is now 61.

JASON WILIAMS—”White Chocolate” is 44.

TEX WILLIAMS—He is now 80.

RICHIE ZISK—The first Charleston Charlie hero is 71.

You can e-mail Frank Giardina at: