By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
When PikeView High School principal Ben Disibbio arrived at his workplace Tuesday, he drove past chilly, deserted outdoor playing fields surrounding the school building.
When he left Tuesday night, he passed through what will now be known as the Ben G. Disibbio Sports Complex.
The Mercer County educator was summoned to midcourt prior to the Bluefield-PikeView varsity basketball game for a ceremony attaching his name to the grounds.
“Mr. Disibbio has worked diligently over the years to make sure PikeView has sports facilities that were equal to, if not better than, other venues across the state,” PVHS assistant principal Mark Godfrey said in prepared remarks.
“He has mowed, lined fields, moved bleachers, wired, dug ditches, put up fences, painted and overseen all phases of construction to every field and building,” Godfrey said. “He made sure his students had every opportunity to play sports where they were safe and competitive.”
Disibbio, who was escorted on court by retired PikeView administrator Rae Shrewsbury, was presented a plaque by Bill Compton of the PikeView Foundation.
The announcement was kept secret from the principal for weeks, though the naming had been approved by the Mercer County Board of Education.
“This just knocked me off my feet,” Disibbio said. “For them to do this for me, is just a tribute to the students here, the parents and the faculty and everyone that’s come through here. It’s just a great honor. I’m speechless.”
But he wasn’t for long. “I do appreciate it,” he said. “I didn’t want this. It’s for the kids. You work for the kids.”
Disibbio, a Bluefield High School graduate, was on the state championship Beavers football team in 1965, the fall of his senior year. He earned an education degree from Bluefield State College and a master’s degree from the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies.
When PikeView High opened in 1994, he was a member of the founding administrative staff, serving as assistant principal and athletics director.
He replaced Dan Zirkle in the top job at PVHS when Zirkle went to work for the state department of education in 2000.
Disibbio has continued his lifelong interest in sports as a member of the board of directors of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
President of the PikeView athletic foundation, Norman Fletcher, said, “We know, the last 20 years, he’s given his life to this school. People think they know that, but unless they’ve been here, close, they don’t know that.”
“This baseball team would be playing on a slate pile and the softball team would be playing on a gravel pile ... the football team would be playing in a cow pasture, and the soccer team would be playing on a dang rose patch.”
“This is just one small thing we can do for a great man. He’s done a lot for us, and there’s still more to come.”
Godfrey said, “Truly, he loves these kids.”
— Contact Tom Bone at