Wheeling Central coach Mike Young Adds to His Legacy

Photo by Alex Kozlowski

Photo by Alex Kozlowski

WHEELING — January 20, 2017 is a day not many people in the Wheeling Central community will ever forget.

That was the day Wheeling Central coach Mike Young was let go, only to be reinstated a few hours later in what was referred to as a “misunderstanding with school leadership.”

Young has said all year “expectations are always high at Wheeling Central.”

People want to win, I get it. But first off, this is high school. These coaches aren’t getting paid millions of dollars. Their job is more about teaching young men to be better people than it is when it comes to winning on Friday night.

Young has done his best all year to deflect questions about him and put the focus on where it should be — his football team.

As I stood on the sideline during the second game of the season, a 10-7 loss to perennial power East Hardy, I was appalled at the things that some fans were directing at Coach Young and his staff. I just shook my head.

Whether he heard those things or not, I couldn’t help but wonder if those people really know who Mike Young is?

First off, if we want to talk about him as a person, is there anyone else you would want mold your kids? I can’t think of many better. This is someone that truly loves the kids that play for him.

When Young was let go, students and coaches took a stand for him and helped turn a wrong into a right. It didn’t stop there.

This season, as much as the players wanted to win for themselves, they also wanted to win for Coach Young.

“This means everything to us, especially that we could do this for Coach Young after he almost lost his job” Wheeling Central running back Bray Price said. “When it happened, we all got together and talked about it. If he wasn’t coaching, we wouldn’t have played. He came back and really unified us and it showed (Saturday).”

That was one perspective. How about another?

“Doing this for him, that was our motto all season long,” running back Dawson Wear said. “They tried to take this away from him and we know they can’t do that. This season was all for him and we all love him.”

I didn’t interview every player on the Wheeling Central team after their state title game victory against St. Marys, but I’m pretty sure they all would have said the same.

Second, why in the world would anyone want to move on from a coach that has one five state championships? Oh, wait a minute, LET’S MAKE THAT SIX NOW!!

It has been a trying year for Young, but Saturday’s victory made it all worth it. Mike Young bleeds maroon and white. You won’t find anyone that loves Wheeling Central more than him. This game solified his legacy as one of the best coaches in Wheeling Central, the OVAC, West Virginia, you name it.

“I can’t control what other people do or what other people want. I can only control what I have,” Young said. “This community really stepped up and supported me and I know these kids wanted to win this for me. I can’t thank them enough.

“My family is the greatest support system I have and every day I am blessed. I have a lot of loyalty to my players and coaches. They know that. They know I love them like my sons.”

That family was on full display as he took picture after picture with his family during my interview with him. You couldn’t take the smile off his face with a jackhammer.

Hopefully the next time an administration or parents want to part with a coach, they will think about what happened this year with Wheeling Central. The coaching fraternity is a tight one. They all want to win, but being a coach is about more than your record.

“There are a lot of tremendous coaches in this valley that may be challenged, what I want to say to people is don’t give up on them,” Young said. “We are all out here doing it for the same reason. We are trying turn these kids into successful young men and that is more than what happens on Friday night.”

Congratulations to the Wheeling Central players, Mike Young and the entire Maroon Knights coaching staff.

Josh Strope can be reached at jstrope@

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