Terry Crislip and Telma Poole led me to the entrance of the gym at the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center in south Parkersburg.
We stopped and looked at the two special recognitions in the gym - one on the floor and the other on the wall.
Both are dedicated to a special 12-year-old girl, Marissa Miller of Vienna, who touched the hearts of many, young and old alike, in this area.
Marissa passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 5.
The message on the basketball court floor reads "Marissa Miller Court, In Honor of #44, 2001-2013."
On the wall, at the opposite end of the gym from the entrance, are the words: "Be Kind. Work Hard. Have Fun" - Marissa Miller #44.
This was Marissa's motto.
The E.L.I.T.E. memorials were unveiled on Nov. 1. In attendance were about 330 children from Jackson Middle School who were being rewarded as S.T.A.R., or Students Taking Active Responsibility, recipients for exemplary behavior. Marissa was in the seventh grade at Jackson.
The Jackson students played games at E.L.I.T.E. that day after Marissa was honored.
The Cadettes of Girl Scouts Troop 1063 from Vienna had a red maple tree planted outside the E.L.I.T.E. center in honor of Marissa two weeks ago. Several of the Girl Scouts knew Marissa from school and athletics.
Plans call for a plaque dedicated to Marissa to be placed at the tree in the future, said Teresa Iles, assistant troop leader of Troop 1063.
"She (Marissa) was the perfect kid," said Crislip, operations manager at E.L.I.T.E. "She always had a smile on her face. Marissa had a special spirit, energy and enthusiasm."
Marissa spent three to five days a week at E.L.I.T.E. playing basketball and taking lessons, and teaching younger children how to play basketball, Crislip said.
The sports center along the Little Kanawha River was Marissa's favorite place because of the people who work there, her family said.
Poole, boys soccer coach at Williamstown High School and soccer program instructor at E.L.I.T.E., enjoyed working with Marissa.
Besides being a talented athlete in soccer, basketball and running, Marissa was a beautiful and happy girl, Poole said.
"I miss her smile," Poole said. "She was a special kid."
Poole said she told Marissa's father, Dr. Kenneth Miller, that her daughter was the only soccer player in the area with the potential to play at a Division I school, such as West Virginia University.
Poole, a native of Brazil, was an all-conference soccer player at Salem International University and has trained soccer players at E.L.I.T.E. and for the Club Ohio soccer team.
Poole said she appreciates the opportunity to work at the E.L.I.T.E. center, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary.
And Crislip is glad to have Poole working there.
"I am a great fan of Telma," he said. "She is knowledgeable about soccer and is good with the kids."
The folks at the Blennerhassett Hotel are gearing up for a busy holiday season. Taking over for the long-standing tradition at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, the Blennerhassett is having its first gingerbread contest and display. The deadline to register gingerbread creations is Nov. 22, with divisions open to children and adults and prize money totaling $4,500. Gingerbread houses will be on display Dec. 3 through Jan. 1.
A few pastry chefs have already entered. The Easter Seals Festival of Trees auction of 42 decorated holiday trees and wreaths will be Dec. 3. The trees will be displayed at the Blennerhassett Hotel Nov. 19-Dec. 6. For the auction, Woodcraft will be providing wood Christmas ornaments signed by big-name woodcrafters in the industry, said Nicole Slattery, marketing/ web design manager at the Blennerhassett.
Contact Paul LaPann at email@example.com