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Kevin Gertz

After leading the Logan baseball team to the 2021 Class AA state championship last June, Kevin Gertz took the Wildcat girls basketball team to the Class AAA championship in March.

LOGAN — Logan High School coach Kevin Gertz has enjoyed quite a whirlwind the last nine months.

He led the Wildcats to state championships in two sports and even got married.

His work as the head coach for the Logan baseball and girls basketball teams earned him the Van Meter Award as the state’s top high school coach, voted on by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

The award is named for former Woodrow Wilson head coach Jerome Van Meter, who won nine championships combined in basketball and football during a 30-year coaching career.

Gertz finished ahead of Bridgeport baseball coach Robert Shields, who won a record seventh consecutive state title, and James Monroe boys basketball coach Matt Sauvage, who led his team to a 28-0 record and this year’s Class A championship.

“It’s a great honor,” said Gertz, who was admittedly surprised by the announcement. “I’ve had a great group of kids in both sports. That’s probably the two hardest-working groups that I can remember.

“The baseball kids worked tirelessly every day. The core of them had missed their freshman year in 2020 [when the season was canceled due to COVID]. Our basketball girls also worked hard daily. They got in the weight room hard last summer and that’s something that we’ve never done. They got bigger, stronger and faster.

“Both teams were very driven and achieved a lot. Hard work is what won these two. It’s easy to coach when they want to become great, and both teams wanted to become great.”

Gertz’s first title came at Appalachian Power Park last June when the Wildcats won the Class AA baseball championship with a 13-0 victory over North Marion in the title game. Logan’s seventh baseball crown was the first as coach for Gertz, who was a sophomore for the school’s first state title in 1984 — a “lifetime ago,” he said — when his father, Roger Gertz, was an assistant. Roger Gertz was Logan’s head coach and Kevin Gertz was an assistant for the school’s other five championships.

In March, Kevin Gertz led the Logan girls basketball team to its first state title with a 27-26 win over Fairmont Senior in the Class AAA championship game. Logan finished with a 25-2 record and a 15-game winning streak.

Despite hinting at retirement following the 2021 baseball championship, Kevin Gertz is back on the diamond itching for a shot at matching his dad’s feat of winning back-to-back crowns in 2000 and 2001.

His current Logan baseball team, led by last year’s Class AA All-State captain Dawson Maynard, is well-stocked for a repeat title run, even if Kevin Gertz’s commute has been lengthened since marriage.

“I live in the greatest town in America,” he said. “I did. I got married and had to move out of Logan and now I live in Boone County. But it’s OK and it’s peaceful and I live with my new family.”

Often clad in blue and gold, Gertz is the quintessential Logan guy: a 1986 graduate of the school, the leading vote-getter for All-State baseball as a junior and a senior, and Class AAA All-State first-team captain as a 12th-grader. He might have been named State Player of the Year in 1986, except that the award wasn’t introduced until one year later.

His coaching career began immediately when he joined the Logan staff in 1987. He served as an assistant baseball coach on his father’s five title teams (1994, 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2008). Roger Gertz retired in 2016 after 30 years as head coach and swapped roles with Kevin Gertz, who has been the girls basketball head coach since 2010.

“This is my life,” Kevin Gertz said. “I feel that I do a very good job coaching, but I was raised by the greatest coach that I’ve ever known. He’s 73 years old and he’s still a tireless worker. He’s there every day working on the field and he’s there for the coaches and for the kids. He’s mentored me, a thousand players, and a lot of coaches. He’s who I’ve learned from.”

Kevin Gertz earned his degree from West Virginia State, all the while helping Logan. He served as an assistant football coach last fall and guided Logan’s American Legion Post 19 baseball team in the late 1990s and early 2000s, leading it to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Among his biggest challenges came last spring when COVID-19 forced the basketball season into May, resulting in an overlap with the baseball campaign.

“I didn’t get to do a lot early for baseball,” Kevin Gertz said. “My assistant coaches — Dad, Lou Green, Mark Butcher and Nick Booth — really carried us. They were the baseball coaches for the first month or so when I was still coaching basketball. We wouldn’t have the success without those guys and the assistants that I have in basketball too — Mike Tothe, Justin Stivason, Jack Stewart and Aime Lanehart.”

Like a scene from “Bull Durham,” Kevin Gertz tied the knot with Laura Akers last summer on the Logan High baseball field.

“We didn’t walk under bats,” Gertz said, jokingly. “But we did have a huge family Wiffle Ball game on the field. We got married the next Saturday after the baseball season was over. I was the assistant coach for that. I let her be the head coach for a week.”

Success started early for Gertz, who, in 1980, led the Logan 11-12 Little League All-Stars to the state title and a berth in the Southeast Regional Tournament in St. Petersburg, Florida. The team was derailed by Tampa Bay’s Belmont Heights, led by future major league players Gary Sheffield and Derek Bell and 1988 Chicago Cubs first-round pick Ty Griffin. Gertz gave up two home runs to Sheffield, who was a nine-time All-Star for eight major league teams from 1988-2009, hitting 509 home runs with a .292 career batting average, 2,689 hits, and 1,676 RBIs.

“I’ll take giving up two home runs to a guy that should be in the Hall of Fame,” Gertz said. “If you hit 500 home runs in the bigs, you are a Hall of Famer.”

Gertz will be presented with the Van Meter Award at the 75th Victory Awards Dinner on May 1 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. Tickets are sold in advance and none will be available at the door.