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Wheeling Central Names Court After “Skip” Prosser

Former Players Return To Pay Tribute to Late Coach

Photos by Cody Tomer Dino Gaudio, a former assistant with "Skip" Prosser at Wheeling Central and Wake Forest, speaks to the crowd.

WHEELING — Many noteable coaches have walked the sidelines at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, but perhaps nobody is more respected than Coach “Skip” Prosser.

Prosser not only coached, but he taught as well. He was an icon, a mentor and role model for everybody who knew him and now he is a legend.

Prosser helped develop the minds of students and athletes at Central from 1979-85. He had a career record of 104-48, while bringing the school five regional titles and a West Virginia State Championship.

On Thursday evening, the Wheeling Central basketball court was named the Coach “Skip” Prosser Court in his honor.

In addition to the court dedication, two state championship teams were honored as well. The 1966 and 1982 teams were invited back to celebrate the moment.

It was a special night to start with, but the fact that the 2016 Maroon Knights overcame a 14-point halftime deficit against Notre Dame, the top-ranked team in the state, to win by a 64-62 score made the event even more magical.

“This was the perfect storm in many ways,” Wheeling Central athletics director Mike Young said. “We were bringing people back who played here 35 and 50 years ago who had great success on this court with state championships and this just reiterates what Central is all about. Character and pride.

“Hats off to coach Mel Stephens, his staff and the kids for playing a great game, especially for being down as many as they were. To battle back really topped off the whole evening.”

Young has been planning on this night for a long time and it was finally able to come into fruition on Thursday in front of a full house.

“I wanted to get the funds for the court,” Young said. “My goal was to generate over $25,000 to redo the court. Then, the Bishop put in a lot more with the renovation of the building, which was much needed.

“The stars were aligned to recognize those two teams and to have so many of them come back shows the impact that Central has made on their lives.”

One person who was in attendance was ESPN analyst Dino Gaudio, who coached under Prosser at Central and recalled the impact the legendary coach made on his career.

“I coached with Skip here for four years,” Gaudio said. “He was a terrific mentor and teacher, especially to these young guys. I told his son when Skip passed away that I knew your dad for 27 years and I never met a better man than your father. Outside of my parents, nobody had a bigger impact on my life personally or professionally than Skip Prosser.

“Josh Howard, who was a 2003 ACC Unanimous Player of the Year under Prosser at Wake Forest, was inducted into the Wake Forest Hall of Fame last year. He said some people touched my life but Skip Prosser changed my life.”

That proves what kind of influence Prosser had on everybody around him at all stages of life and his son Scott Prosser, who was in attendance, reflected on his memories of his father.

“If he were here, he would be thanking everybody for showing up and giving the team as much respect as they did,” Scott Prosser said. “To tell you the truth, this night really means a lot to me. I graduated from Central Catholic in 1995 and I remember seeing his team pictures and trophies in the hall.”

Prosser even made an impact on Thursday’s game as current Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens recalled the first time he met Prosser.

“The summer that I first got this job, there was a coaching clinic at Wheeling Jesuit and Coach Prosser was one of the speakers. In the refreshment area at breaktime, Prosser came over and asked if I was nervous. I said ‘yes’ a bunch and he said ‘you’ll be fine’ and that meant a lot to me.

“The those few words really impacted how I felt about getting the job here and how special it was.”

Prosser’s greatest victory on the court came in the 1982 season, when he led his team to a state championship victory and Rob Druschel, who played on that team, came back to remember his coach and the championship run.

“It was special because we all got to be apart of Coach Prosser’s life,” Druschel said. “He was like a second father to me. It was about discipline, being together and family.

“It was total euphoria when we won. There was a lot of hard work put into it and its always great to see all these guys together.”

Dave Dailer, who won the last Catholic Championship at Wheeling Central in 1966 shared his feelings on the 50th anniversary of the championship.

“I think that Central Catholic has upheld such a tradition over the years and it is really special to come back and see that tradition is still preserved.

“Winning that last Catholic championship was probably one of the finest moments of my life and its an honor to represent the 1966 team.”

This night would not have been possible without Bishop Michael Bransfield, who dedicated the gym to Prosser before Thursday’s game and he expressed how important this night was for Wheeling Central history.

“We have been able to renovate and improve a building that was built around 1960,” the Bishop said. “There is a wonderful culture of Catholic life here with generations of good people who love one another. A very important part of Wheeling is the people and I am very happy for them.”

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