Sports excitement will reach a fevered pitch this Sunday when the fourth annual induction ceremonies for the McDowell County Sports Hall of Fame will take place at Mount View High School, with dinner to kick off the event, beginning at 2 p.m.
The McDowell County Sports Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Welch Lions Club. Plaques honoring past inductees are on display at the Sterling Drive Inn on Stewart Street.
Ten star honorees from McDowell County’s rich sports’ history will be inducted into the 2014 class of the Hall, along with one deserving team from yesteryear.
Robert Gresham and Oscar Patrick will represent the Big Creek area in this induction class, with Tim Floyd being inducted from the Gary area.
Former Iaeger coaching greats Butch Bivens and Mitch Estep will be enshrined from that area, while the late Matthew “Hinge” Johnson, former longtime head coach at Kimball High School, will be joined by his successor in that capacity, the late Henry Winkfield.
Coach Wink, as he was known, also represents the Northfork area, where he was head baseball coach and longtime assistant in football and basketball, before taking the basketball reins in the fall of 1982.
Ron Spencer, who garnered both football and basketball All-State honors at Northfork, will also be inducted.
Welch High School athletes from the late 1940s and early 1950s, James Rich and Tom Stepp will complete the individual class.
The unbeaten 1957 Big Creek Owl football team will be enshrined as the second team to be inducted, following last year’s 1963 Welch Maroon Wave gridiron squad.
• Gresham graduated from Big Creek in 1967, with 10 letters under his belt for football, basketball and track.
A second team All-Stater in football his senior season, Gresham rushed for over 1,500 yards and scored 130 points for Coach Joel Hicks’ Owls.
Following graduation, Gresham started at tailback for three seasons on a football scholarship at West Virginia University, rushing for 2,181 yards in his career.
In his junior season, he rushed for 1,155 yards, a single-season record that stood for 25 years. He led WVU to the Peach Bowl championship that year. Gresham currently ranks 10th on the all-time rushing list for the Mountaineers.
Upon completion of college, Bob was drafted by the New Orleans Saints. In addition to the Saints, he also played for the Houston Oilers and the New York Jets, logging a total of six seasons in the National Football League.
With the Saints in 1973, he returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown. That score was the longest of the NFL season that campaign.
A 2008 WVU Hall of Fame inductee, Gresham lives in North Carolina. He and his wife, Joyce, have three children: Robert, Jr., Lakeisha and Jerrick.
• Patrick graduated from Big Creek in 1966, and also starred in football, basketball and track for the Owls. Lettering in football four seasons for Big Creek, Patrick garnered Honorable Mention All-State acclaim as a receiver his senior year.
A three-year starter in basketball, Oscar was a second team All-State selectee as a senior, in addition to All-County and All-Area honors. In track, he won the High Jump event in the Regional Track Meet.
Patrick preceded Gresham to WVU on a football scholarship and broke a Mountaineer pass receiving record in 1968. Prior to the 1969 season, Oscar was named a Preseason All American by Street and Smith magazine.
In 1970, Patrick was drafted by the Washington Redskins and played for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1971.
In 2008, he was named to the West Virginia Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame, and honored a year later by being named as a Legends recipient by that Hall of Fame.
He is the son of William and Louise Patrick and grew up in Coalwood. He and his wife Eliza are the parents of children Mickel, Adena, Chloe, and Bells.
• Floyd was an outstanding basketball player at Gary District High School, playing for McDowell County Sports Hall of Fame coaches James Wilkerson and Ergie Smith.
In his senior season of 1962, Floyd led the Bulldogs to the Class AA state finals. He was an All-State honoree that year, the first black player to be named to the first team All-State basketball team.
After graduation, Floyd starred in basketball at West Virginia Tech, averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds per game over his four-year career. He was selected to the All-WVIAC roundball team all four years he played for the Golden Bears.
He was named Player of the Year in the WVIAC in 1968 and a District II All-American in 1970.
Floyd served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne for three years and made more than 40 jumps.
An inductee into the West Virginia Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame, Floyd is the son of William, Sr. and Julia Floyd. He has one son, Tim III.
• The next duo, Bivens and Estep, solved any issues with continuity of football coaches at Iaeger High School from 1971 until the school closed in 2010.
No less than seven coaches guided the Cubs on the gridiron in the 1960s and 1970 before Bivens took the head job in the late summer of 1971. He led Iaeger through the 1979 season, guiding the Cubs to their first ever football playoff berth that year.
After Bivens stepped down, Estep, who had played for Bivens in the early 1970s, took over and led the Cubs through their final campaign in 2009.
A Welch High School grad, Bivens served as an assistant football coach from 1968 through 1970 at Iaeger, as well as being head track coach and an assistant basketball coach in his tenure.
In his nine years at the Iaeger grid helm, Bivens’ teams compiled a 50-39-2 record, including an unbeaten 1979 regular season and the playoff appearance.
The 1973 Cubs finished 8-2 and were ranked fourth in West Virginia, with one of those two setbacks coming to No. 1-rated, and eventual state champion, Northfork.
Bivens earned his degree from King College in Bristol, where he played fullback on the soccer team.
Bivens always shares credit for his success in coaching with longtime assistants Arble Morgan and Sandy Bright, and in 1979, new assistant Estep.
Following his retirement from coaching and teaching to go into private business, Bivens remained ever-present with Coach Estep’s teams, volunteering to cut the grass at Fanning Field, as well as doing anything else needed for the football teams.
Bivens and his wife, Frances, have a daughter, Dr. Amy Bivens of California.
Estep retired just last year, after 30 seasons as head football coach at Iaeger and three more, guiding River View in its initial three years of existence.
As a Cub in high school, Mitch lettered in football, basketball and track, graduating in 1975. He lettered all four seasons he played football at Bluefield State College.
Upon graduation from BSC, Estep returned to his alma mater to assist Bivens in 1979 before becoming head football coach the following season.
His career football record is 212-135-1, placing him at the top of the list as the football coach with the most wins in McDowell County history.
Estep guided 13 of his teams to postseason playoff berths, including 10 at Iaeger and three at River View. His 1981 Cub team finished the regular season 10-0.
The 2000 Iaeger team finished the regular season third in the state in Class AA and advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual state runner-up Wayne.
In addition to being head football coach at Iaeger, Mitch also coached softball, basketball and track.
Estep and his wife, Lafon, are the parents of daughters Malorie and Megan.
Anyone desiring to attend Sunday’s festivities should make reservations by calling Raymond’s Restaurant at 304-436-2572.
Coming up later this week will be profiles of Johnson, Winkfield, Spencer, Rich and Stepp.