Gilbert Honored for Work in Sports
JM grad issued Legislative Citation
GLEN DALE — It’s all there, laid out in West Virginia Blue and Gold.
On a single piece of paper lists the sporting achievements of one Donald “Donnie” Gilbert Sr. But a singular parchment can’t harness the impact he’s had on the sporting landscape in the City of Glen Dale for the past 35-plus years.
The State of West Virginia did so, though, with a Legislative Citation issued to the John Marshall High School graduate, in part, from JM’s own Delegate Mike Ferro (D-Marshall), a former Monarchs assistant basketball coach.
“I was very surprised,” Gilbert said.
“It was quite an honor. Since I’ve been 18, I’ve been doing youth baseball, youth football, youth wrestling; all the sports you can probably get involved in as a volunteer. Everything has led from one thing to another.”
The “Whereas” on the citation are many and describe the many avenues Gilbert has impacted the lives of youth, not just in Glen Dale, but in Marshall County.
Joe Myers, one of the folks who’s worked with Gilbert for many years as a coach, said the citation was a well-deserved honor.
“Donnie is one of those small-town coaches who is always there,” he said. “He was coaching long before his sons were born, he’s been coaching long after they’ve been through the system. I’ve coached three different sports with him through the years and there are three constants: The kids learn the game, they win, and they have a blast. Donnie always makes sure the kids have fun.”
And Gilbert said that’s what every endeavor he’s ever sank his teeth into has been about.
“It’s so much fun. I never got paid, but the paying part is the kids giving back.
“The most rewarding thing is when someone gives you a simply thank you. But more than that, it’s when someone you’ve helped gives back.”
Paying it forward. It’s something Gilbert from one of his mentors, Robert “Snake” Peabody.
“He was a great guy to have in Glen Dale,” Gilbert remembered. “The guy just taught and taught and taught. He taught just more than coaching.”
Life lessons were paramount, Gilbert, a longtime local radio voice, said. And it’s those that have lasting meaning.
“If you coach a kid, they’ll remember you for the rest of their lives,” he said. “If you think about when you played sports, you remember every one of them.”
Gilbert’s list of accomplishments are many. He started the Glen Dale baseball/softball organization, claiming 26 titles from 1982-2016.
Marshall County “Little Monarchs” wrestling was created, in part, to Gilbert. It’s a feeder program for John Marshall High School’s ultra-successful program.
In 1994, Gilbert created the Marshall Flag Football League.
“We read one day in the paper Glen Dale wasn’t going to have a team because no one would coach them,” Gilbert said. “I said we couldn’t have that. I jumped in and volunteered and got a team together and stayed coaching for 15 years.
“We have almost 500 kids participating each year. It’s fun.
Gilbert has also lending his voice to almost every JM sports as an announcer.
“People have said I’m the ‘Voice of the Monarchs’ and, I guess, in a way, I am,” Gilbert said laughing.
Gilbert, who’s spent countless hours painting and tending to the field, is a member of the John Marshall Boosters and its field renovation committee. Monarch Stadium is slated to be demolished this spring and reconstructed in time for kickoff this fall.
Gilbert has certainly set the bar high when it comes to athletic involvement. For him, he’s simply continuing the tradition of community members aiding youth.
“There are just so many things you get involved with over the years,” said Gilbert, who noted this is probably the first year in nearly half a century that a Gilbert isn’t playing or coaching youth baseball in Glen Dale.
“It’s been a lot of time, but it’s been well-worth it.”