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Wheeling U to Host OVAC All-Star Football Camp

Photo by Seth Staskey Pictured, from left, are Wheeling University Director of Athletics Carrie Hanna, Head Football Coach Zac Bruney and President Ginny Favede.

WHEELING — Wheeling University President Ginny Favede found herself on ‘Cloud 9’ Wednesday afternoon.

Understandably so when you consider she saw upwards of two-and-a-half years of work pay off.

It was formally announced after the OVAC Executive Board meeting, which was held earlier in the day at Belmont College, that Wheeling University’s bid to host the camp for the annual OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Football Game had been approved by the board.

“I want to thank the OVAC All-Star Football Game committee and the OVAC Executive Board for giving this opportunity to Wheeling University,” Favede said during a press conference held in the Alma Grace McDonough Center. “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity.”

Nearly 70 players, 20 cheerleaders and more than 130 band members will converge on Wheeling University’s campus the week of July 17. The 78th annual game will be held at Wheeling Island Stadium on Saturday, July 23.

“(Having this camp) is so important to the university,” Favede said. “When I took over (as president), I actually said to the campus community, ‘we would rebuild this university on the backs of athletics.’ I am a huge proponent of athletics because I believe that anything you need to learn in life you can learn through sports … how to win, how to lose, how to be gracious and how to push yourself forward. We’re developing young men and women and sports plays a big part of that, so this is a huge opportunity for us.”

The players and coaches from Ohio and West Virginia will be the first groups to arrive. They’ll begin their preparations on July 17. The band will report on July 19.

Wheeling University head football coach Zac Bruney – a former OVAC All-Star himself from his prep days at Martins Ferry – thinks having many of the premier players of the conference on campus could also prove highly beneficial for his program, too.

“You get guys practicing football on your campus, you get young men who have had great high school careers, on both sides of the river, an opportunity to play one more (high school) game,” Bruney said. “A chance to get them on our campus, use our facilities, stay in our dorms and experience social events on our campus is great. The most memorable thing, for me, when I was a player (in the OVAC Game) was the week that was. The game’s memorable in its own part and right, but the week of training camp and everyone who was involved with it, made it memorable or special.”

The Cardinals football roster features several former OVAC All-Stars. With National Signing Day now less than a week away, Bruney anticipates a few more future Cardinals will grace the field at Wheeling Island Stadium before reporting to Wheeling camp in early August.

“We had a couple of guys play last year on the West Virginia side,” Bruney said. “The years prior, we’ve had some Ohio guys. Every year there seems to be a few guys, but it’s just natural. You try to keep your Division II, home-grown talent home if you can.”

This is not the OVAC’s first foray to Wheeling University. The conference had half its camp on Wheeling’s campus in 1999. The teams were split that summer and Ohio trained at Linsly and West Virginia was hosted at Wheeling.

Wheeling University has been working on its proposal to the OVAC for nearly three years, according to Favede.

It was spearheaded by Donna White, the director of conference services. It branched into a committee to work on the logistics of the undertaking.

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