BECKLEY - The Southern Coalfields were well represented at the 11th-annual West Virginia Sports Legends Reunion which was held on Saturday, July 6 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
A total of 255 prominent athletic figures from the Mountain State were honored at the event, including seven from Mingo County and 13 from neighboring Logan County.
Longtime Mingo County football coach Danny "Yogi" Kinder was one of the Mingo Countians recognized, along with former Burch legends Mike Smith, John Maynard and Charlie Maynard, Williamson graduates Mark Cline and Ralph Hensley, and former WHS coach Allan Hatcher.
Kinder was a head football coach in Mingo County for 31 years, serving as the head man for the Matewan Tigers from 1986 until the school closed in 2011 and then leading the Mingo Central Miners in their first six seasons from 2011-16.
Kinder piled up 256 wins during his coaching career including a Class A State Championship at Matewan in 1993 and a Class AA State Championship at Mingo Central in his final season on the sidelines in 2016. He also finished as state runner up in Class A three times and played in the state semifinals nine times in his career.
Coach Smith won a pair of Class A state titles at Burch in 1991 and 1993 and had a total of six state tourney appearances. He won six in regional titles and seven sectional championships.
Smith coached several all-state players and many went on to play college basketball.
He also served as assistant girls coach alongside his brother Bill Smith for 15 seasons. They won the Class A state title in 1990 and had nine state tourney berths.
Coach Smith won 214 games during his illustrious career. He is also a member of the Hoops Classic Hall of Fame and was selected as one of the top 100 Greatest Coaches of the W.Va. State High School Basketball tourney during its 100-year anniversary. Smith also coached the North-South All-Star game three times.
John Maynard played on the 1957 Class B Burch High School (BHS) state championship team which was the first ever state championship for Burch High School. After college he came back to his hometown and became head coach of the Bulldogs. He started out as the head coach in 1967.
He first went to Pikeville College on a basketball scholarship and later graduated from Morris Harvey (now the University of Charleston.)
Maynard had many good teams and players through the years. His team won a Class A state title back in 1989. He spent 22 years as head coach at Burch High School. During much of his tenure, the Bulldogs played in Class AA, and at a time that only four teams made it to the state tourney in each class. He won seven sectional titles as coach during his career. He also had two other teams make it to the final four.
Coach Maynard won 272 games during his career. He coached several all-state and all-area players, including eventual head coach Mike Smith.
Burch graduate Charlie Maynard was also recognized as a member of the Mercer County BOE and a legendary director of the WVSSAC.
Former Williamson great Mark Cline is arguably one of the best basketball players to come out of the Mountain State as he led Williamson to a Class AA State Championship in 1983 under coach Allan Hatcher. He was named two-times as the West Virginia High School Player of the Year and was also named a McDonald's and Street and Smith All-American.
Cline went on to enjoy a four-year career at Wake Forest where he finished his career with 1,202 career points which still ranks in the top 30 all-time for the Demon Deacons.
He just finished his ninth season as an assistant coach for Marshall University after previous coaching stops at Oklahoma, Virginia Commonwealth, and Old Dominion among others.
Ralph Hensley was a three-sport star for the Williamson Wolfpack in the late 60's and went on the play football at West Virginia Tech.
He later became a successful head coach at East Bank High School in Kanawha County where he led the Pioneers to four Class AA State Championships between 1989 and 1996.
The school consolidated with DuPont High School to form Riverside High School in 1999 and he was an assistant coach for Riverside that first season and helped lead them to a runner-up finish in Class AAA.
The aforementioned coach Allan Hatcher led the Williamson Wolfpack to the Class AA State Championship in 1983 as they knocked off the powerful Northfork Blue Demons and coach Jennings Boyd.
Hatcher, a Logan graduate, led the Wolfpack from the mid 70s to the mid 80s as they had several powerful teams. He had his team ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation in 1981 when they went undefeated in Class AAA until they were upset in the state championship game by Princeton.
Hatcher eventually left West Virginia and was a longtime coach over in Kentucky and even was an assistant coach for a time at Morehead State. He eventually returned home to Logan County to lead the Chapmanville Tigers to their first ever berth in the West Virginia State Tournament in 2014, and then took the head coaching job at Logan before having to retire due to health reasons.
The other sports legends from Logan County that received recognition were Hatcher's son Mark Hatcher, Chapmanville legend Danny Godby and his dad Deron Godby, Roger and Kevin Gertz, Ted, Mark and Erik Ellis, Jack Baisden, Steve Pritchard, Mike Stone and Ross Scaggs.
Princeton native Rod Thorn was the keynote speaker. Thorn played at West Virginia University before starting an eight-year career in the NBA. He later became an NBA executive, and last September he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He is best known for drafting Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft.
Among those scheduled to join Thorn at the head table were Beckley native and former Marshall football coach Bob Pruett, former WVU football coach Don Nehlen, Marshall basketball coach Dan D'Antoni, former Woodrow Wilson and Duke basketball star Howard Hurt and basketball legend Willie Akers.
Jarrid McCormick is a sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.