WHEELING - There comes a time in everyone's life when you simply get tired of being kicked around. The Oak Glen baseball team reached that point last week.
Having not won a sectional title since 1993, the Golden Bears had a chance to close out rival Weir in Game 2 of their sectional final, only to come up painfully short.
''We gave that game back to them. But it was mistakes that could be corrected,'' Coach Lou Nagy said. ''I felt confident in our kids going into that third game because I knew we were deeper on the mound,'' than Weir coach Bill Magnone's club.
''Luckily, Jeff Hissam came up and pitched a great game.
''I've got a bunch of fighters.''
It hasn't always been that way, though. Not only had the Golden Bears not won a crown in 18 years, but most seasons the outcome of their games were very seldom in doubt.
But a school that has been known for years as a wrestling power, slowly but surely appears to be going through an athletic renaissance. It wasn't all that long ago that the boys' basketball team authored a perfect regular season, and the football program recently made the postseason for the first time in ages.
Nagy said it's nice to see the baseball team taking up the fight.
''It's good to start to get a little bit of respect,'' he said. ''I called around to get games to make up some games. The only people that wanted us was John Marshall, Wheeling Park, Linsly and Weirton Madonna. Those are the elite teams of the valley.
''The game against Wheeling Park up here, we took them to the limit. We took JM to the limit and we lost to Madonna on a three-run homer.''
Five years ago, you wouldn't have found the Golden Bears on the field with the likes of those heavy hitters - pun intended. But when Nagy took over this group of seniors four years ago, he started building from the ground up, ducking nobody along the way.
Nagy said it's been a group effort, and when he talks about starting at the bottom, he means it.
''We've seen a big improvement in the Little League program and even into the Pony program,'' Nagy said. ''We've got some great people in it now, and their main goal is to help the kids get better.''
That starts with playing better competition.
''When I came into it, I didn't shy away from it because you don't get any better by playing chumps,'' he said. ''When I was coaching football back in the 80s and we had Chris Enochs, we wanted to play the best.''
The support, the coach said, is pouring in from alumni across the country. Nagy noted that he has received congratulatory phone calls and e-mails from as far away as Las Vegas.
''It's getting a lot better (and) we've had some really good crowds,'' he said. ''I'm proud of them.
''It's a good bunch of kids who have worked hard, and these are the guys I started with.
''It's been a change of attitude and a change of work ethic. We had to make cuts for the first time this year because there were so many kids out, which obviously means the interest in the program is rising.''
The final chapter of this story, though, is yet to be written. Awaiting next week is a regional matchup with powerful Magnolia, a club the Golden Bears played tough during their regular-season meeting.
''We played them early in the year and had one bad inning,'' Nagy said of a loss.
''They want another shot at Magnolia. Let's face it, AA ball in our area, they're the name.
''Practices have been great and they get their work done. You don't have to push and push and push.''
WJU Swim Camp
Applications are being accepted for what has to be the best hands-on swimming camp in the area. Wheeling Jesuit swim coach Rick West, a three-time West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year who has more than 20 years of experience in Ohio Valley swimming as an athlete, coach, meet director and clinician, is offering his services, as well as those of his staff and team, at their 2011 instructional swimming camp.
The camp, which will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. the week of June 20-24 at WJU's Alma Grace McDonough Center and costs $175 (that includes instruction, lunch, and a camp T-shirt and hat), is open to swimmers of all ability levels.
''We really try to tailor the instruction to the ability of each individual swimmer,'' West said. ''That way, each camper will take something home from the week that could dramatically impact their performance.''
In other words, if you're just beginning or have been at it for 5 years, there's something to learn.
In addition to work inside the pool, class room sessions will also provide instruction on nutrition, teamwork and sportsmanship.
''Similar camps in our area are upward of $500 for a week of instruction,'' West said. ''We provide high-quality, hands-on instruction in a fun, informative atmosphere at a price that is affordable for families.''
The camp space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information on the Rick West Cardinal Swim Camp or to receive a camp brochure, please contact Coach Rick West at (304) 243-2399 or access the information online at wjuswimming.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/swim-camp-documents/ or via Facebook/WJUSwimming.
One of the most-recognizable golf tournaments of the season is approaching. The 2011 Kalkreuth Amateur Golf Classic is scheduled for June 11-12 at the Crispen Golf Course. The tournament, which is a 36-hole medal and best ball Ohio Valley Golf Association event, has added Senior and 'A' Flights (handicap index of 7.0 or higher).
Tee times are still available, but filling up quickly.
To enter, contact Dave Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (304) 242-2000. Entry forms are available at Hole N Run, Wheeling-area golf courses, and at oglebaygc.com.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net