THORP: Moore Takes Pride in Making a Difference at Home

WHEELING – Folks in the Ohio Valley like nothing more than to see a hometown boy or girl make good.

Ricky Moore grew up here. He went to high school here. He went to college here. Now, he’s making differences in lives here.

Giving back, if you will.

As the head men’s and women’s cross country and track and field coach at Wheeling Jesuit University, Moore has experienced much success. Last week, his mantle got a little more crowded.

Moore was named West Virginia Conference Coach of the Year on both the men’s and women’s sides after both squads captured conference meets at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa.

It’s a feat that likely won’t happen again. Wheeling Jesuit is moving to the fledgling Mountain East Conference next fall.

”It was very exciting for me and it was a special weekend,” Moore said.

”It’s very special. It was nice to be recognized by your peers. And what was really cool was (former WJU coach) Mark Swiger was there. He was the coach in 1993, the last time both teams won conference titles.”

Swiger is Moore’s mentor, not only as a coach, but in life. So when Moore assumed Swiger’s old job five years ago he decided to incorporate many of his former coach’s philosophies.

”Athletes don’t really pick up on a lot of lessons, but I think both coaches that I ran for – Mark and Trent (Huntsinger) – talked about being patient and just sticking to that plan. The team is the first thing you think of, not yourself. If you do that, your team will be successful and you’ll be successful.”

Moore, who had great success at WJU and Wheeling Park, never envisioned himself as a coach. But when the position was offered to him, it was one he couldn’t turn down. How could he? How many times does one get to coach at his alma mater and stay in the town he grew up in?

”Once I got in this I knew this is where I should be,” he said. ”It’s been very smooth.”

There were some struggles at first. Moore needed to build up the numbers a bit. Then there was the issue of coaching athletes who weren’t much younger than he was.

The latter wasn’t a problem. Respect came quickly. And, with that, came success, on the course and in the classroom.

And, as far as Moore is concerned, an athlete’s success can’t be defined by what’s been accomplished in the athletics arena alone.

”It’s more than that,” he said. ”If you ask any kid. One of the first things we talk about when we meet individually or as a group, is how great it is being at a school like Wheeling Jesuit.

”Looking back, and this is where I relate with Mark and Trent, you really see how much of an impact coaches have. Even if you only see them once a year or every six months.

”The victories are amazing and it will bond the kids forever, but seeing them become successes after college is the best.”

Yaeger Leads Illini

Former Wheeling Park High School standout Courtney Yaeger will lead the Illinois’ cross country into this morning’s Big Ten Championships at Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing, Mich.

Yaeger, a senior, is one of three members of the team competing today that ran is last season’s meet. This will be Yaeger’s third appearance in the event.

It’s been a big season for the ex-Patriot. Yaeger has competed in three events this fall for the Illini and has topped the team and set personal bests every time.

At the Illinois Intercollegiate, Yaeger was second overall with a time of 5K time of17:14. That helped her earned Big Ten Conference Co-Athlete of the Week honors.

At Pre-Nationals, she set a career-best 6K time of 21 minutes, eclipsing 45 seconds off her previous best.