Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


August 25, 2012

Inside the Beaver Den

Albert recalls his playing, coaching days for Beavers

BLUEFIELD — When the Beavers and the G-Men clashed Friday night at Mitchell Stadium, many of the fans filling the stands could remember what it was like to put on a football uniform and play for their schools. One such fan can remember playing for the Beavers and coaching for them later on.

William E. Albert, known to family and friends as Bill, recently marked his 40th year working at First Century Bank. During a lunch break, he spoke about the days when he played football for Bluefield High School.  

“I’m still a huge fan and wish them well. I played for the Beavers back in the ‘60s; played inside tackle and center. I played on the 66, 67 and 68 teams. We won the state championship in 1967,” he recalled.

After graduating in 1969, Albert attended Concord College and graduated from that institution in 1972. He started working for the bank that same year.

He remained a fan and supporter of the Beavers football program, but then a friend asked him if he would like to play a bigger role for the team.

“Well, I’d known Coach (Fred) Simon for a number of years. He and my brother played together — my younger brother Randy — and over the years we became pretty good friends. He asked me to help coach in 2004.”

The Beavers had reached the state finals in 2002 and 2003, but lost, Albert said. Simon shuffled his staff and asked for some help.

“I started and fortunately the bank was very cooperative in giving me a little bit of time to help them,” he said. “We’re a community bank. It’s always been my position that this community has been good to me. I was born and raised here, and I wanted to give back to the community. And I’ve always been involved in civic activity. In 1992, I chaired the United Way campaign and I’ve always loved Bluefield.”

Albert said that working as an assistant coach for Bluefield High School’s team was another way to serve the community.

“When Fred asked, I said I’d give it a try for a year and do it on a year-by-year basis,” he added.

Albert stated that he probably would have coached again this year, but his mother became ill and needed his help. Coaching added more to an already busy schedule.

“Something had to go, and, unfortunately, it was football,” he said. “I’m also chairman of the board at the local hospital, Bluefield Regional Medical Center. That takes a lot of my time as well. Between the banking and the coaching and the hospital, something had to give.”

Being an assistant coach was different from being a football player, but it was not a big difference.

“I guess inside every player, there’s a little bit of a coach buried in there,” Albert replied when asked about that difference. “It’s not a big adjustment. The game’s changed a bit over the years, but it’s still blocking and tackling — basically, the fundamentals that we were taught. I was fortunate to play for some really good coaches like Coach (Merrill) Gainer, Coach (John) Chmara and Coach (Glynn) Carlock. We were pretty grounded in the fundamentals. It was drilled into us for year that you do it this way, and those things really haven’t changed.”

Some plays and techniques may have changed, but the basics have stayed in place.

“When you get right down to it, it’s the same old game. Block and tackle,” Albert said.

Besides learning how to play football, the young people who play high school football and other sports learn lessons that go beyond techniques and rules.

“Well, I think all team sports sort of prepare you for life,” Albert stated. “Football’s particularly good at that. It teaches you defeat, it teaches you the value of hard work, and those things serve you well in life. It really does teach you life lessons. You’re going to face adversity. I don’t care how good of a team you’re on. You’re going to face a third and long — and know you have to get it done — and that’s true in life, too.”

“The thing you learn as a high school football player, those are lessons you can use the rest of your life,” Albert continued. “Hard work’s going to get you a long way. You learn that as a player. It applies to life in general. All the things that make for a good football player make for a good citizen, too.”

Albert planned to attend Friday’s game.

“I plan to be there, willing the creek doesn’t rise. I haven’t missed many of them over the years.”

There are many reasons why the annual Battle of the Bluefields has a long-standing local following as well as a national following, he said. The opposing schools are only two miles apart, and they represent West Virginia and Virginia.

“I think in recent years a lot of class reunions at both schools have planned their weekends around the Beaver–Graham game,” Albert said. “I know there’s a lot of people who come in from out of town for that very reason. It always amazes me that you’ll have 10,000 to 12,000 people there for the opening game and the very next week it will drop to 5,000 or 6,000. It’s a special time and the communities seem to enjoy it. It’s really good for the economy. It’s a win-win and it’s unique.”

Souvenirs from previous games and other Beavers memorabilia inhabit a den in the Albert home appropriately dubbed the Beaver Den.

“We have a lot of stuff we gathered over the years I’ve been playing and coaching and being around the program. My wife just puts it up on the wall. It’s sort of my little man cave.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at�

Text Only
  • Randy Phillips 1 A heart for service

    In the film noir gangster movies, guys who did the kind of work that Randolph “Randy” Phillips did would be called, “Screw,” a name for a prison guard that comes from the shackles that bound prisoners more than a century ago. But during 32 years of service with the Virginia Department of Corrections, Phillips, now 63, and retired, worked to help the inmates under his supervision work to straighten their lives out and become productive citizens.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pam Meade Giving back to the community

    When Pam Meade retired after 26 years in the banking business, she worked in her garden, traveled, and did all the other things that a lack  of time didn’t allow. The novelty started wearing off when her second year of retirement arrived, so she started looking for more to do and found a new purpose when the Tazewell Area Chamber of Commerce needed a new executive director.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Original marriage of the Bluefields Celebrating historic union

     All prospective brides and grooms feel excited as the appointed hour for the exchange of their wedding vows moves ever closer, but for Stephanie Muncy of Nemours and Cody Woodall of Springville, Va., the excitement is almost mach one — the speed of sound.

    July 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • Richard Smith 1 From Hot Wheels to classics...

    Years ago when they were boys, Richard Smith and his brother Roger watched as the men in their families worked with muscle cars and hot rods. They had their Hot Wheels toys to play with, but then they grew up and got their own big cars. Now Richard Smith and other enthusiasts are working to share their passion for cars.

    July 5, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hankins Telescope 1 ‘I love it, it’s in my blood’

    June 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Florida Georgia Line Ready to party

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_0941.JPG Jake’s Grocery: A point of stability in McDowell County

    In a world of constant change, Jake’s Grocery has been a point of stability for decades. Economic downturns and floods have challenged owner Jacob T. Potter and his wife Carol Sue, but with help from above, the small store in McDowell County has stayed open to see its 45th anniversary.

    June 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lasker  Telescope 1 Looking back on life

    In less than a month Dr. Bruce Lasker, 68, of Bluefield, will be cleaning out his office, while reminiscing about the last 38 years. As an OB/GYN, Lasker has been delivering babies in the two Virginias since 1976. He delivered his last baby in April and will retire officially on June 30.

    May 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Wikle Telescope 1 Combining two loves

    Princeton resident Stan Wikle, 60, knows and loves gospel music. He also likes planning events. So in 1995, he combined his two loves to create Stan Wikle gospel Promotions, a business that brings national Christian artists to local venues in the two Virginias.

    May 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Weiss Telescope 1 Determined spirit

    April 26, 2014 2 Photos