PARKERSBURG - A rich history covering more than 40 years of boys basketball at Parkersburg South walked through the gymnasium on Thursday evening for a photo shoot at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
"It almost brings tears to my eyes to see these guys get together because they mean so much to me," said Joe Crislip, who was the fourth in a line of six to serve as the Patriots varsity coach. "I know this group of six coaches have touched a lot of lives of kids on the southside."
Also present was the one who started it all when Parkersburg South was established in 1967. Bill Camp left the head coaching position at Williamstown and spent two seasons at South. He currently lives in Sarasota, Fla.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
The history of Parkersburg South boys basketball has included a total of six coaches. All six were present for a photo shoot Thursday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center. Sitting in the front row, from left, are Bill Camp, Larry Edwards and Stan Bucklew. In the back row: Roy Edman, Joe Crislip and Mike Fallon.
"We thought when the place opened some of the kids may not want to be here because they were coming from Parkersburg High School," Camp said. "It ended up after the first year, they wouldn't have gone back.
"Nobody thought we would ever win. They thought it would be a football and wrestling school."
After returning to his hometown to work as an administrator and boys basketball coach in Spencer, Camp eventually returned to Wood County to coach two seasons at Parkersburg High School. Eventually, his trail led him to Davis & Elkins College.
"I've enjoyed every place I've ever been," Camp said. "I had a good run at it for 30-some years."
Stan Bucklew became South's second head coach. Crislip, who graduated from South in 1976, remembers how Bucklew played only a man-to-man defense.
"He was a disciplinarian and expected us to work hard," Crislip said. "He told us we're going to outwork the other team and outhustle them.
"Even he would admit he didn't know the most about the game of basketball when he took over here, but he knew how to treat kids and knew how to get them to work hard, and believe in a system."
Edwards, who currently serves as an assistant coach for the South girls basketball team, stepped in as the Patriots' third head coach for boys basketball. Two of Edwards' assistants - Crislip and Roy Edman - eventually worked the same position.
"Larry knew how to treat people," Crislip said. "He's been with the girls program for I don't know how long and those girls just love him."
After Edwards stepped down, Crislip continued the tradition and eventually captured the program's only state title in 2003. Crislip spent a total of 20 years with the program, including 10 as head coach.
"When I think back to the memories of when I coached, I think about the process of our school being known as a wrestling school," Crislip said. "I look at all their banners and what a great program we do have in wrestling, but we tried to get the basketball program to be recognized throughout the state."
Crislip and his staff created a fervor on the southside. On game nights, finding a seat in the ROAC was almost impossible.
"People would come and have blankets set up during gym class," Crislip said.
Edman replaced Crislip and for the five seasons he was at the helm, he remembers the impact South's home-court had when the opposition stepped into the gym.
"When you came here, it was rocking," said Edman, who teaches at Martin Elementary. "Many coaches I coached against mentioned how the atmosphere intimidated their players."
Now the baton has been handed over to Mike Fallon, who last season led the Patriots to the Class AAA state tournament.
"I've always said this is the best coaching job in the state of West Virginia hands-down," Fallon said.
Although many decades have passed since South played its home games during its initial season at Parkersburg High School, Fallon only has to turn to his assistant Chris Hyson to learn about past South teams.
"Chris is always talking about things in the past with coach Edwards - things he saw and experienced," Fallon said. "It's kind of neat listening to him and some of the stories he tells - especially about coach Edwards."