Sonny Allen Gets ‘Distinguished’ Title

While watching the Marshall-West Virginia mens basketball game a week ago, a list of 11 former Marshall coaches/players appeared on the screen, and among the names was Moundsville native Sonny Allen. The announcer referred to Marshall being a “Cradle for Coaches.”

In addition to the names of these individuals were the names of the teams where they had coached after leaving Marshall.

In Allen’s case, it listed him as being a former Old Dominion, Southern Methodist and Nevada coach, although he had many other coaching jobs during his career.

Allen received awards at these three schools in addition to Marshall, and recently he received yet another honor for his coaching achievements. This award didn’t come from a university, but from the state of West Virginia.

The most recent award was in the form of a proclamation signed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, naming Allen as a Distinguished Mountaineer.

The governor asked Del. Mike Ferro, D-Marshall, and he had hoped to make the presentation in person, but instead it was accepted by Allen’s sister, Nancy Varlas, who in turn sent it to her brother.

The proclamation reads in part that Allen was a resident of Moundsville High School, and graduated from Marshall University with AB and MA degrees from there. It states that he excelled in basketball and baseball at both MHS and MU and that he had been inducted into the Marshall University Hall of Fame.

It states that he had an outstanding 40-year career as a basketball coach, winning on every level from high school to college to professional, and that he had earned many awards and recognitions including the Marshall University Distinguished Alumna, Southwest Conference Coach of the Year, NCAA District Coach of the Year, Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year.

The proclamation notes that Allen changed the games of college basketball with the creation of the “numbered” fast break, and was instrumental in the adoption of the 3-point shot, and the elimination of the jump ball.

Also, that Allen had shown true passion for coaching, and that throughout his distinguished career, displayed exemplary leadership skills.

I’m going to list some of Allen’s achievements: First of all, he was a four-letter winner in basketball at Marshall, where he also earned one letter in baseball. He was coached at Marshall by Ohio Valley native Jule Rivlin, a West Virginia Athletic Hall of Famer.

He has coached at the following levels: high school, college freshman, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division I, World Basketball League, Continental Basketball Association, National Basketball Association and Women’s National Basketball Association.

In addition, he was an NBA scout for nine years.

He has received Athletic Hall of Fame status from three Universities: Old Dominion, Marshall and Nevada.

His coaching career spanned six decades beginning in 1959 with the Marshall Freshman team and ending in 2001 with the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA. During his 34 years as a basketball coach his teams won 613 games while losing 383.

His teams won three national titles.

His philosophy was to have his teams get a lot more shots up than the opponent, and thus the fast-break, which he learned as a Moundsville Trojan, and it carried over at every stop along the way!

Chuck Gillingham is the new chairman of the Sanford Center Board of Directors, while is Gary Goode is the vice chairman, Allen Hendershot the secretary, and Joyce Howard is the treasurer.

At the recent meeting, the board discussed the Winter Inside Yard Sale, which will be held from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m, on Jan. 4 at the Center. Setup for the event will be from 6-8 p.m. on Jan. 3.

Volunteers are need to help at the event and for clean-up after the sale.

Tables are available for rent by by calling 304-845-8182.

The Moundsville Park and Recreation Board has passed along a suggestion for a Christmas stocking – a ticket to the annual Dad and Daughter Dinner to be held Feb. 8 at the Training Center at the former West Virginia Penitentiary. Tickets can be purchased at the Four Seasons Pool Anyone desiring additional information can call the Recreation Department at 304-845-7733.

H. John Rogers has put together a list of mainly older Ohio Valley athletes from 44 high school, 13 of which are no longer in existence. He hopes to have placemats made with his choices and spaces for people to write their choices, if they desire.

Some of Rogers’ choices date back many, many years, while some are more recent, say 25 years ago.

A couple of interesting choices of Rogers are that for Hundred High, he gave his vote to a team, the 1930 Basketball State Champions. From Benwood Union High School he has three picks, Bob Butts, Rex Hartwig and the name Gongola, and the word (Any), as in, pick any of the 12 brothers who all played there.

His choice for Reader High, his alma mater, is Clarence Garrett. Not too many people will know this name. He was a baseball pitcher who made it to the major leagues. In case you don’t know, Rogers, himself, was a one-man track team at Reader.

Also, Rogers dropped off at my office a 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Calendar obtained at the recent PiraterFest. Thanks, Herb.

A Merry Christmas to granddaughter Lily and everyone, especially those loyal readers who tell me they read this column every week.