Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 22, 2012

Bluefield High athletes give back to the community


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — In this day when sports has proliferated on the channels we receive on our television, stations on our radio dial and apps on our phones and mobile devices, we are sometimes led to believe that athletes are faceless, heartless, greedy warriors who care only about the sport in which they are paid to participate.

While some honestly believe that is the profile, especially of professional and college athletes, those of us who work within the world of sports know that from the professional level, down to the first year of t-ball, athletes are individual, breathing souls who must go through life on earth like everyone else on the planet.

The athletes at Bluefield High School are no different.

For years members of the BHS football and basketball team have assisted in the Community Christmas Tree at the Bluefield Auditorium. This year, as in the past, members of Fred Simon’s football team and Buster Large’s boys basketball team put in time and effort to help make Christmas brighter for the children who attend the program.

Whether they are shopping for toys, setting up chairs, handing out gifts, or cleaning up afterwards, these young athletes did something to make our community a better place for all of us to live.

In the days following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., we have seen pro athletes express their condolences to the families affected. Most notably Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees reached out to specific families in their time of grief.

Sports experiences at the high school level leaves lasting impressions. Most professional athletes, when asked who most influenced them, most often credit their parents and/or a coach from youth leagues and high school.

Over the years I have worked closely with Coaches Simon and Large. I’ve covered them as a sportswriter. I’ve broadcast their games as a radio announcer. I consider them friends. My son played football for Simon and was a member of the Beavers basketball team under Ernie Gilliard.

All three of those coaches believe that it is more important to create a great young man than a great basketball or football player. They set standards players must meet if they expect to play at Bluefield High School. They let it be known to the players that they are examples to the younger athletes and they must carry themselves in a manner that reflects sportsmanship, good citizenship and strong character.

This attitude is not unique to Bluefield High School, I am just using BHS as an example of the work that is done in many places by athletes and teams to help the communities in which they live and play.

To all the Bluefield High School athletes and students who helped with the 2012 Christmas Tree, thank you for your support and Merry Christmas to all.

Bob Redd is a Daily Telegraph sportswriter. Contact him at bredd@bdtonline.com.