How About A Little Bit Of Respect?

WHEELING – Ever been caught by one of your children doing something you have specifically, and repeatedly, told them not to do? Scrambling to find a response but struggling mightily, the only thing that comes to mind is ‘do as I say, not as I do.’

Unfortunately, sitting at this desk I happen to witness far more of those moments than I would like. Another occurred last Thursday as I arrived at John Marshall High School to cover a West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One softball semifinal between the Monarchs and University, and was promptly handed a printed copy of a story that had run the previous day in the Charleston Daily Mail.

The article was written by good friend Derek Taylor and centered around the fact there are several contenders for the AAA softball crown this season, and that group isn’t limited to Region Four, which is home to the last seven state titles.

But St. Albans coach Greg Garber, who I have never met but have been told speaks his mind almost to a fault, went a couple steps too far when he not only insulted John Marshall kids – factually incorrectly, I might add – but continued to prove that, for whatever reason, there absolutely does exist a ‘we’re better than everyone else’ attitude emanating from many in the Kanawha Valley.

In the article, Garber said the Monarchs, who are 31-3 and won 29 in a row at one point, ”made it to the State Tournament the last two years and I don’t think they’ve won a game.” Well, Coach, you probably should have noticed John Marshall was beaten in the state final by Lincoln County and thus finished as runner-up.

Continuing, and here’s where the real odor comes from, Garber went on to question the Monarchs’ schedule because it ”doesn’t play Sluggerfest, they don’t play in Best of the Best and they don’t play a lot of the better teams down here.”

So what we’re to take from that, is that good softball is only played in the Charleston area. What a crock.

Maybe, Coach, you would feel differently if you had to play Wheeling Park six times. Or if you had to play Edison, Steubenville in most years, St. Clairsville, Steubenville Catholic Central.

It was pointed out in that article that John Marshall’s two early season losses came at the hands of (perennial Ohio power was left out) Edison, which it was incorrectly noted would be AA in West Virginia, and Magnolia (27-3 record was left out), which will be Class A next season. First of all, the only WVSSAC-sanctioned sport where the number of students in your school and thus on the team matters, is football.

Particularly in the sport of softball, no matter the classification, one really good pitcher is the ultimate equalizer. If that pitcher is blowing almost every pitch by the batter, it has a tendency to cover up that slow-footed third baseman with a hole in its glove.

The sad thing is, we’ve heard it before. It was just a couple of years ago when South Charleston was dominating the football world, that it was loudly suggested nobody outside the Mountain State Athletic Conference could win a state championship because quite frankly, football was created long ago in that very place.

And believe it or not, despite the fact the Charleston area did a horribly inept job with it, there are still people down there who believe it is that city, not Wheeling, that should be playing host to the Super Six football championships.

As it turns out, Garber should have been more concerned with his Red Dragons than he was the Monarchs. A day after that article went to print, St. Albans was routed 5-0 by a Parkersburg South team that John Marshall beat three times by a combined score of 30-8. Not so incidentally, South finished the regular season ranked No. 6, in the state, or one spot ahead of JM, in the joke that is the West Virginia Coaches Association poll, proving it’s not just Garber who cannot see the forest for the trees.

Once again I will pose this question: If we ask our children to be respectful, why can’t we follow that same rule? Do as I say, not as I do just isn’t good enough.

Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at