STEUBENVILLE - Bill Brubaker guided his Linsly boys and girls to Small School titles Saturday at the OVAC Swimming Championships.
Make that the Bill Brubaker OVAC Swimming Championships.
''It was a big surprise,'' Bru-baker said Saturday night. ''I had no idea it was coming.''
Before action began at Steubenville High School's Crimson Center, Brubaker knew something was up when OVAC Executive Secretary Tom Rataiczak spoke.
'We're getting ready to start the meet and Tom took the mic and started talking and I was hearing some things,'' Brubaker said.
They were many of the same things Rataiczak touched upon when Brubaker was honored three years ago in recognition of his 30 years as meet director.
''But I had no idea they were renaming the meet,'' he said.
The honor is fitting as Brubaker has presided over a meet that has enjoyed tremendous growth during the past 33 years.
It all started when he took over for John Lyons in 1980.
''(Being the meet director) came with the territory as Linsly was the only school with a pool,'' said Brubaker, a history teacher at the Leatherwood campus. ''So, if you coached at Linsly you were also the meet director.''
Brubaker, a Mechanicsburg, Pa., native, arrived at Linsly after serving as an assistant coach at West Virginia University, where he swam collegiately, for two years. While in Morgantown, Brubaker served as meet director for the Mountaineers' conference meet.
''It was five teams then,'' he recalled of the OVACs. ''The biggest change now is a computer lets you put things together in five minutes rather than five hours. I don't have to figure things up I just input the information and the computer does the rest.''
Timing equipment is also more advanced.
''Even though it was five teams it took a while doing everything by hand,'' Brubaker noted.
The OVACs stayed at Linsly until it moved to Steubenville upon completion of its facility in the mid 1990s. The move was also a reflection of how big the meet had become.
''It's changed a lot,'' Brubaker said of the event, noting Saturday's honor brought plenty of memories flooding back of former coaches and swimmers, not just on his own teams.
These days, the event has grown so much that qualifying events take place earlier in the week at Linsly, Wheeling Park and Brooke. Brubaker said the folks who organize those events, as well as the officials from Steubenville, play major roles in the meet's success.
''I'm amazed how it's grown,'' he said. ''East Liverpool built a (YMCA) which has encouraged growth to the north. ''We just need to continue to keep growing the sports all over the valley.''