BECKLEY — From such coaches and players are legends made.
Fred Simon, Bluefield High School’s five-time state championship football coach, will take his place among the honorees at the annual West Virginia All Sports Legends banquet on Saturday, July 6 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Armory.
A record crowd of more than 1,000 will be on hand for the event which honors a multitude of outstanding state athletes and coaches spanning several decades.
The legendary Rodney King Thorn, the “Prince of Princeton” who was an All-American high school player averaging over 30 points per game during his senior year, later an All American at West Virginia University where he averaged a career 21.8 points per game, before becoming the No. 2 selection in the National Basketball Association draft which initiated an NBA career from 1963-71. Thorn also coached and was NBA president of basketball operations for a time. During his tenure with the Chicago Bulls, Thorn was instrumental in drafting Hall of Fame player Michael Jordan.
In addition, at the head table during the festivities will be former WVU coach Don Nehlen, former Marshall coach Bob Pruett, Logan coach Willie Akers, former Minnesota Viking Lonnie Warwick, and Mullins standout Dan D’Antoni, among others.
“I am so honored to be included in this outstanding event,” said Simon, whose BHS football teams have compiled 265 wins during his career beginning in 1986. Simon has led the Beavers to the last two state championship games in Wheeling, winning the 2017 title with a 29-26 triumph over Fairmont Senior. He has coached in 11 state championship games, had four undefeated seasons and been named area coach of the year several times.
He was a standout prep player for Coach John Chmara at Bluefield High (1971 – 74) and earned honors, as well, during his playing days at Concord University. Simon has continued his loyalty to the Beaver Nation, in more than 30 years as a teacher and coach, devoting countless hours working with students and staff. Simon has worked with a variety of outstanding coaches, many of them former players, including his son, Fritz, who currently serves as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
“This (honor) is not about me – it is about the players and coaches I have worked with, the parents who have supported our program, our administration through the years, and the tremendous fan base we have here in Bluefield,” observes Simon. “I am thrilled to be part of this. It is a wonderful program.”
Many famous figures from the local area have been part of the program including Ergie Smith, Ted Spadaro and Ted Gillespie, among others.
The event is coordinated by Coach “Tex” Williams, chairman of the program. Williams, along with Jack Lilly and Bob Backus, originated the idea for the event, realizing the great sports heritage in the Mountain, combined with the fact that many legendary athletic figures were passing away.
“It is an honor for me to honor others,” says Williams. “I have been so blessed. This program brings together some of the finest individuals from our state, many of whom have had outstanding success in sports, business, community programs and in life. We salute our stars from West Virginia with this program.”
Sign-in will begin at 11 a.m., with call to dinner at 11:30 a.m. Thorn will speak at noon, followed by a socialization time and then introduction of the various honored guests.