Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 30, 2013

Scholars led MHS 20-2 hoops team

By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

MORGANTOWN — Local old-timers might well remember Morgantown High’s 1953 boys’ basketball team that posted a 20-2 record.

 It is believed to have been the best group of Mohigans in the late Arthur H. Clyde’s 31 years as the school’s head coach of all sports. They not only were outstanding players, but excellent students.

Seniors Marc Constantine, Gaylord Nixon, John Schafer and Sam Weese were members of the National Honor Society. The other starter was a junior.

Weese, who now resides in Wayne, Pa., recalls that MHS’ second loss that season was to Woodrow Wilson High of Beckley in a close State High School Tournament semi-finals game. Beckley defeated Parkersburg easily for the championship.

Weese brings up this matter now because the Morgantown High 1953 class will be holding its 60th reunion on June 5-6.

“As one of the four seniors, I decided to do research of my three teammates,” Weese said to me. “What I found was that three of the four seniors had extraordinary careers as adults and their stories are a credit to their high school and Morgantown.

“While they each chose different career fields, they excelled in the paths they followed.” He called the combined capsules he put together “A Success Story That Did Not End In A State Tournament Loss.”

I most certainly agree, having read his findings which he enclosed. But space allows only brief sketches herein.

Constantine, who is deceased, was a 6-foot-6 center and the ’53 team’s leading rebounder. He went on to become a highly successful chemical engineer graduate from West Virginia University. He worked on many big projects.

Nixon was a slender jump-shooting guard. After military service, he earned an MBA degree from Harvard’s Business School. He excelled in financial business.

 In May 2006, Nixon died at 71 in Sarasota, Fla., where he was widely known and admired.

Schafer was a high-scoring forward who received All-State second-team honors. He accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy after graduation from MHS, and he excelled in both academics and athletics (basketball and baseball) there.

After graduating from the top of his class, Schafer also had an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and took it. He served in the Vietnam War.

He retired in 2002 and now lives in Woodland Park, Colo.

Weese, who excelled as the team’s play-making guard, also was an end on the MHS football team and was named All-State second team. He earned a business degree from WVU.

Weese also served in the U.S. Air Force with honors. At one time he served as West Virginia Insurance Commissioner. He’s now retired.

Returning to academia in 1978, Weese served stints as professor at the University of Hartford and Eastern Kentucky. In 1998, he became president of the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. It’s an institution for professionals in the field of financial services.

Weese said of the four MHS seniors of 1953 basketball fame in summary:

“(We) had outstanding careers after graduation. The four seniors proved that they were worth their early recognition as scholar athletes.

“A few veteran sports fans in Morgantown faintly remember the success of that year’s team (1953). But it’s doubtful that any of them know about careers of these four seniors because for the most part, they spend their careers far from their hometown.

“But each of them later stated that the foundation for their success was the solid education and sound guidance they received as students at MHS.

“Also, none of them ever forgot the strong values and high ethical standards they observed while playing basketball for the legendary Coach Clyde, who died the following year…

“What should also be remembered is that these were very good players. There have been only five teams in the school’s history that won more games and only the 1975 team lost fewer games.”