CHAPMANVILLE — If it weren’t for the efforts of Bea Orr Logan County girls’ athletics might not have enjoyed as much success as they have over the years.
Orr, a longtime Logan County educator, Marshall University graduate and strong proponent of girls’ sports programs, was honored on Wednesday during the Logan Area Chapter of the Marshall Athletic Club’s golf and luncheon event at the Logan Country Club in Chapmanville.
Orr was a true pioneer in her own right as she began girls’ softball in Logan County around the time when Title IX Federal Legislation was passed in 1972.
Title IX was the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling which established female athletics in schools, stating that discrimination against females was not allowed. The ruling also mandated equal funding for boys’ and girls’ sports.
That same year, Orr had attended an out-of-state conference and was struck by an exhibit for the Miss Softball America program.
The next year in 1973, girls’ youth softball in Logan County was off and running and the newly formed Logan squad was off to Los Angeles to play a squad from nearby Orange County, Calif.
Orr laid down the groundwork for the success that was to come.
Beginning with the very first WVSSAC-sanctioned state high school softball tournament in 1981, Logan County’s three high school softball teams — Logan, Man and Chapmanville — would go on to win 12 state championships over the last 31 years.
Logan County’s high school programs have been greatly boosted over the years by the youth ASA or Miss Softball America area programs in the three vicinities.
Just go out on Midelburg Island on any given spring or summer evening and you will see the fruits of Orr’s labors. You will see young girls as young as age 4 or 5 picking up a bat, running the bases or learning how to throw the ball.
As a person said best at Wednesday’s event, “You can’t find a parking spot.”
Orr, with many family members, friends and former students in the audience, spoke at Wednesday’s event and seemed surprised with the recognition. She also kept talking in the present tense, noting that more work needs to be done in the world of girls’ athletics.
“Our girls are not going to be left out of anything as long as I am wearing this green jacket,” she said.
Orr said she was overwhelmed.
“Yes. Pat White talked me into it,” said Orr, stopping to shake someone’s hand. “Yes, I’m surprised. They said that I contributed as much as anyone to girls’ athletics.”
Orr said she’s always been a big Marshall supporter, too.
“I grew up in Huntington and I have always supported Marshall,” she said. “But I came to Logan to teach. I had never before come to Logan in my life but they were recruiting me to come down there and teach. I came not knowing where I was coming but I came to teach.”
Orr said she saw an exhibit on girls’ softball in the early 70s and said she knew she had to bring it to Logan County.
“I was here a couple of years before I could get involved with all of that,” Orr said. “But I did get involved with the national organization, called the American Alliance for Health and Physical Education. I went to some of the national meetings and that’s where I ran across this exhibit about Miss Softball America. So I talked them into starting a pilot program in Logan.”
In only the third year girls’ softball was recognized by the WVSSAC, Man High School brought home to Logan County the first state championship in 1983.
Logan then won one in 1986.
Chapmanville followed in 1999.
Over the last 13 years, Logan County teams have won an additional nine state titles.
“It makes be proud. It really has put us on the softball map,” Orr said of all of the success. “It makes me really really proud. I’m still involved with a lot of the programs. I’ve enjoyed working with the girls and with girls’ athletics over the years. I’m glad that it has worked out. It’s been wonderful. All of the success wouldn’t have been possible without all of the support from the parents and the Board of Education. They have supported everything that I have tried to do.”
Orr was kidded about her green leather jacket she wore Wednesday to the country club.
“I definitely had to wear green,” she joked.
Also on hand at Wednesday’s event were Marshall AD Mike Hamrick, football coach Doc Holliday, basketball coach Tom Herrion and Marshall play-by-play radio announcer Steve Cotton.
Herrion also praised Orr when he spoke.
“On behalf of the faculty and staff and myself I would also like to thank you, Ms. Orr for all that you’ve done and the impact that you’ve had on young people’s lives. We respect that,” Herrion said.
Herrion then joked about Orr’s green jacket.
“That’s a heck of a nice green-colored jacket that you have. I’ll have to get one of those. I might look good when we play one of our rivals,” he quipped.
— More on the Marshall Coaches Caravan in Friday’s sports.