CHAPMANVILLE — In the last few days, rumors around town and on the internet have focused around Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball coach Harry Kirk.
According to the unconfirmed information, Kirk had resigned.
It’s now confirmed.
Kirk has stepped down after three seasons as the Tigers’ coach, Logan County Schools Superintentent Wilma Zigmond told The Logan Banner on Saturday night.
“It is true,” Zigmond said, when asked about Kirk’s resignation. “I have not talked to him but he sent me a real nice letter that he was resigning as head coach of the Chapmanville basketball team.”
Zigmond said she does not know why Kirk decided to step down.
“I don’t think he wants to talk about it but I know that his wife is sick,” Zigmond said. “But it is true. It’s a matter of public record.”
Kirk, the former longtime head coach at Harts High School, who led the Lions to Class A state championships in 1978 and 1990, went 45-26 in his three seasons as the head coach at Chapmanville.
Kirk was brought in to Chapmanville to turn around a program which had some success in the 2000s, but had sagged to a 4-19 record in the 2008-09 season and had very little fan support.
Kirk’s first team had immediate success in the 2009-10 roundball campaign as the Tigers were 17-8. Chapmanville made it all the way to the Class AA regional championship game but lost 63-53 to Sissonville.
The defeat left Chapmanville just one win away from the state tourney, an old bugaboo with the Tigers’ basketball program over the last 15 or so years in which Chapmanville was the regional runner-ups in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006 under former coaches Danny Godby and Dave Elkins. Godby coached the Tigers until 2002 before stepping down to become the school’s athletics director. He has since retired from that post.
Chapmanville has come close several times but has never made it to the state tournament in boys’ basketball in its history.
Despite falling short of the state tourney, Kirk’s Tigers played well in his first season at the helm. Led by Todd Terry, Cliff Hall, Brooks Cooper, Dustin Woody, Zach Maynard and others, Chapmanville was crowned co-champions of the Cardinal Conference with Sissonville.
One of the highlights in Kirk’s inaugural season was a 96-91 loss at Class AAA state powerhouse and favorite Logan — a game in which Chapmanville led late in the fourth quarter before a packed Willie Akers Arena crowd. Logan, led by Harts native Paul Williamson and transfer Noah Cottrill, went on to go 25-3 and win the 3A state title.
After the loss, an emotional Kirk praised his team which had played so hard and so well in the face of a far superior opponent.
Chapmanville slipped to 13-10 in the 2010-11 season under Kirk, falling 71-54 to Tug Valley in the Class AA sectional tourney at Logan.
Last season, the Tigers were 16-8 and were eliminated 58-43 by Tolsia in the sectional tournament, also played at Logan. The Tigers finished 10-4 in the Cardinal Conference.
Chapmanville did not play rival Logan last season as the series was discontinued following on-court and on-field physical altercations between players over the last few years.
When Harts High School closed in 2006, Kirk stayed at Harts and coached the Harts Middle School Lions for two seasons before coming to the new Chapmanville Regional High School, which absorbed most of the HHS students and opened its doors in 2007.
In a 2009 interview with The Logan Banner, Kirk said Chapmanville would be the only place he would consider coaching after his retirement. In his coaching career at Harts his closeby Harts Lions were always a big rival to cross-border rival Chapmanville.
“Chapmanville is my home away from home,” Kirk said. “Chapmanville is the only place other than Harts that I’d ever consider coaching. I always said that if the job came open and Coach (Dave) Elkins stepped down, I’d apply for the job. Me and my family, we’re excited about it.”
Kirk made history last season when he won his 500th career varsity game. A total of 450 of those came at Harts.
As a player, Kirk was a standout guard at Harts High School in the late 1960s. He also played at the Logan Branch College of Marshall University under Coach John Goff and was a standout player there.
Once Kirk began teaching in the early 1970s, he started out coaching grade school and junior high teams in the Harts area. He became head coach at Harts High School in the 1976-77 year and won his first state championship in 1978.
Kirk was unable to be reached for comment.