WVU players set for dinner

VIENNA – The Mountaineers play here!

They will tonight as members of various West Virginia University sports teams will serve as the featured guests for the 18th annual Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg Steak and Burger Dinner, set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Grand Pointe Conference and Meeting Center in Vienna.

While the WVU athletes are regarded as stars, the real stars of the evening are the members of the Boys and Girls Club who will be in attendance and who will benefit from the proceeds of the fundraising dinner.

Organizers hope to raise $25,000 to $30,000 from the event thanks to corporate and individual sponsors as well as proceeds from the auction that will feature sports memorabilia, including many WVU-related items.

All those in attendance are permitted to bring one item for the visiting athletes to autograph. Boys and Girls Club members will be served steak while others receive a hamburger.

WVU representatives will be spread throughout the room, with one placed at each table.

Two of the most familiar figures are Parkersburg South graduates Ron Crook, the football team’s offensive line coach, and Michael Molinari, a kicker, punter and holder for the Mountaineer football squad. He’ll be joined by safety Karl Joseph, former Mountaineer standout Quincy Wilson of Weirton, who serves as West Virginia’s assistant director of football operations and Donnie Tucker, the educational academic counselor for Mountaineer athletes.

Two representatives of the men’s swimming and baseball teams as well as women’s volleyball, gymnastics, track, swimming, soccer and rowing are scheduled to attend. One of the rowers planning to make the trip is Rachel Cokeley of Harrisville.

The event was started by Mike Flanagan, the former executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, in conjunction with former Parkersburg resident Allan Johnson, who was serving as WVU’s strength coach at the time.

“We had Marc Bulger, Brian Pukenas and Eric DeGroh,” Flanagan recalled the initial dinner. “Since then, we’ve have a lot of the big Mountaineer stars Pat White, Steve Slaton, Darryl Talley…”

The Boys and Girls Club has 850 to 900 members and keeps the annual membership dues at just $12 per year. Those who attend the Mary Street facility are fed a hot meal by the Wood County Schools. Highlights of the facility are a full-sized gymnasium, a climbing wall and the swimming pool.