By GARY DOVE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Monday, April 29th, Senior Night for the 2013 River View baseball team was celebrated.
That evening brought about another celebration, as the year-old baseball field at the 3-year-old high school was officially named Mike Vallo Field, Home of the Raiders.
The former Raider Field was given its new name in honor of veteran Big Creek and River View head baseball coach Mike Vallo, who retired at the end of last season.
Vallo’s baseball squads won over 300 games under his guidance in 27 years as head coach. His Owls’ baseball teams won an amazing 23 consecutive sectional championships, 13 in Class AA and 10 in Class A.
Remarked a former player for Coach Vallo who has assisted his mentor and is now athletic director at River View, Jeff Johnson, “It’s a good thing for River View. We wanted to see someone get the recognition he deserves.”
Vallo, who was asked by Johnson to come to last Monday’s Senior Night, was completely in the dark about the naming of the field after him.
“I was very surprised. It felt a little funny. I appreciate it,” summed up Vallo, who graduated from Welch High School and Marshall University.
After graduating from Marshall, Coach Vallo taught one year at Oceana and, with the help of then Indian football coach John Beckelheimer, looked to get into coaching his second year there.
However a job came open at Big Creek and Vallo chose to take that position, closer to his Welch home, than Oceana.
He remained at Big Creek, teaching Drivers’ Education, until about four years prior to the 2010 consolidation of Iaeger and Big Creek, when he taught that course at both schools.
With the consolidation, he moved to River View, where he taught until this school year.
At Big Creek, he spent time as an assistant football coach and later head gridiron boss, as well as spending his first two years there as an assistant baseball coach. He guided the Owls’ baseball fortunes for 25 seasons.
The first two years of River View, Vallo was head baseball coach, as well as an assistant football coach.
The new Mike Vallo Field was under construction in the first year, the spring of 2011, and the Raiders were only able to play their final game of the season there.
Last spring, the View played all season on the new field, including hosting the Class AA sectional tournament there.
The facility drew rave reviews from coaches, players and fans alike for its playing surface, to the great seating for fans, to every other aspect of the facility.
Coach Vallo continued, “I wish we could have done a little better here (in the first two seasons).”
He has been staying busy in retirement, from playing golf a couple days a week, to working out, to doing fix-up jobs around his house in Welch, where he and his wife, Rosanna, still live.
Of staying away from watching the Raiders this baseball season, Vallo said, “To kind of keep from missing it (coaching), it’s like (former Big Creek) Coach (Mario) Poletti said, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’”
He concluded of the naming, “I feel very good they did it.”
With the new name, a new course is set, but with Mike Vallo Field, an eye to a successful past helps direct the course in the right direction for the future.