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OVAC Postpones Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Another summer sporting staple has fallen victim to COVID-19.

The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference recently opted to postpone the induction of its 17th Hall of Fame class one year because of the issues and unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

OVAC Treasurer and Hall of Fame Chairman Tom Rataiczak sent out a letter to the entire class late last week, informing it of the decision.

“There are a host of uncertainties that played into the decision,” Rataiczak said.

“Some of those are the pandemic itself, social distancing, crowd size and whether or not large gatherings would be permissible by then. There are just too many unknowns.”

The Class of 2020 includes: Kim Clifford (St. Clairsville, Cadiz) and Robert “Bubba” Kapral (St. John Central) as coaches; Dr. Bill Welker and Larry Deaton as officials; Jerry Narcisi in the OVAC Family category; Rich Wilinski as an OVAC Contributor; Scott Nolte for OVAC Media; Ralph Anastasio (Follansbee) and Tom Bloom (Weir) from the 1950s; Tony Jeter (Weir) and Mike Palmer (Steubenville) from the 1960s; Pete Abuls (Cambridge) and Don ‘Kip” McLane (Steubenville Catholic) from the 1970s; JoJo Blaha (Wheeling Central) and Carl Fodor (Weir) from the 1980s; Daryl ‘Boogie’ Johnson (Wheeling Park) and Josh Watson (Magnolia) from the 1990s; and Leekycia Brown (Monroe Central) and Natalie Perzanowski (St. John Central) from the 2000s.

The 2020 Legends Class consists of Ed Bode, Bob Bowen, Russell “Bus” LaRue, Robert Lilienthal and Chris Yura.

The class of 2020 will be inducted formally on Aug. 14, 2021 at WesBanco Arena.

This is the latest in a string of events that have been canceled both involving the OVAC and pertaining to the general Ohio Valley sports scene.

Last Wednesday, the OVAC opted to cancel the Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game, which was scheduled for late July. The Banquet of Champions remains on indefinite postponement.

“Cancelling the all-star football game as well as others’ decisions to cancel events like the Italian Festival, Debbie Green Memorial 5K road race and other events in close proximity to the arena were taken into consideration,” Rataiczak said.

The idea of simply postponing the event until later in the fall or winter was considered, but simply too many moving pieces were involved to allow that to gain traction.

“The uncertainty as to scheduled for the start of schools and fall athletics played role as well as some of these people were going to be traveling a great distance, so the availability and cost of flights for those flying in as well as the same factors for hotels for out-of-town guests.”

Rataiczak also pointed out dealing with the schedules of the Ohio Valley Roughriders and Wheeling Nailers along with arena availability made simply postponing to another date a challenge.

“The one constant that we’ve maintained for 17 years is making this a first-class event,” Rataiczak said. “And for all of the (aforementioned) reasons, we don’t feel like we can offer what the inductees deserve.”

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