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E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center beats the odds

Celebrates 10 year anniversary

The E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center sits on eight acres along the Little Kanawha River in south Parkersburg. (Photo by Paul LaPann)

PARKERSBURG — The E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center “has beaten the odds.”

These are the words of Terry Crislip, one of the managers and owners of the sports and events center in south Parkersburg along the Little Kanawha River.

Crislip said people told him more than 10 years ago that he faced daunting odds in hoping a small business and a sports facility such as E.L.I.T.E. would survive.

Well, on Oct. 11, the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center, 2000 First Ave., marked its 10th anniversary with a celebration for its 85 owners and Wall of Fame inductees and their families.

E.L.I.T.E., or Every Lesson Inspires Teamwork Effort, is on solid financial footing, Crislip said.

Marissa Miller is remembered at E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center. (Photo by Paul LaPann)

On Oct. 11, E.L.I.T.E. unveiled its Wall of Fame inductees — people who have participated in sports programs at E.L.I.T.E. and have gone on to earn athletic scholarships to colleges. The inductees had provided testimonials on how E.L.I.T.E. had benefited them.

“The kids on the wall beat the odds,” as less than 2 percent of high school students earns an athletic scholarship to college, Crislip said.

The 44 names are Kim Stephens, Kayla Ayers, Doug Dennis, Matt Emerick, Chase Fieler, Asia Greenleaf, Logan Cox, Zac Grossenbacher, Kari Simon, Taylor Beckley, Jenna Burdette, Kirsten Jones, Jordan Parker, J.R. Kerr, Taylor Life, Cody Monroe, Alex Schaffer, Preston Boswell, Saaman Ghodsi, Garrett Gilkeson, Ashley Hall, Anna Hayton, Ali Jones, Zacciah Saltzman, Ibi Watson, A.J. Collins, Bobby Foggin, Jordan Fox, Jamison Hunt, Todd Burner, Ian Domenick, Devin Hefner, Emily Jackson, Alli Kern, Kerwyn Marshall, Kyla Marshall, Isaiah Morgan, Cole Plants, Allie Taylor, Allyssa Wilson, Jake Dennis, Seth Fallon, Lindsay Fries and Austin Witucky.

The 44 names on the wall ironically coincide with the sports jersey number of a special person associated with the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center — Marissa Miller.

Miller, of Vienna, was a standout soccer and basketball player who enjoyed spending time at E.L.I.T.E.

Marissa Miller is remembered at E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center. (Photo by Paul LaPann)

Miller was 12 years old when she died in 2013. “Her favorite place was the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center because of the people who work there,” according to her obituary.

The basketball court floor at E.L.I.T.E. is named the Marissa Miller Court, In Honor of #44, 2001-2013. Miller’s motto is on a wall of the sports center: “Be Kind. Work Hard. Have Fun.” — Marissa Miller #44.

A tree and bench were placed in Miller’s honor near the front door of the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center.

Crislip said he anticipates adding more names to the Wall of Fame.

Joining Crislip as E.L.I.T.E. managers and owners are his brother Joe and son Bryan, who is the new boys head basketball coach at Parkersburg High School.

Terry Crislip stands in front of the Wall of Fame at E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center. (Photo by Paul LaPann)

E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center provides programs for basketball, soccer, fitness, Tae Kwon Do, baseball, softball, track, football and cheerleading. All age groups are welcome at the sports center, from tiny tots to senior citizens, Crislip said.

The center has two basketball courts and a soccer field.

Part of the building has two floors, with weightlifting and cardio fitness areas on the second floor. The sports center has 1,800 seats and a concession stand.

The E.L.I.T.E. center, a 30,000-square-foot facility, has hosted business shows, revivals, birthday parties, a circus, roller derby, boxing matches, gun shows and other events. “It is more than just for athletics,” Crislip said.

The sports center sits on eight acres. The E.L.I.T.E. owners donated a few acres to the city of Parkersburg for a skate park and lake with a paved walkway around the water.

The indoor soccer field at E.L.I.T.E. (Photo by Paul LaPann)

The goal is to get 100 owners for the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center, Crislip said.

The current owners are doctors, lawyers, bankers, a dentist, construction workers, plant workers, physical therapists, salespeople, retirees, two churches, teachers, former E.L.I.T.E. members and others.

People raised more than $1.2 million to build the facility, which opened in October 2009, according to the E.L.I.T.E. website. Crislip said total cost of the facility was $2.8 million.

Bart Beckley, president of the E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center Board, said he visited 20 facilities along the East Coast to get ideas for a sports center in Parkersburg that would benefit everybody.

The most important component in building a successful sports center is to involve talented people with a variety of skills, Beckley said at the 10th anniversary celebration.

Beckley said he was proud of the owners and noted the sports expertise the Crislips bring to E.L.I.T.E.

The E.L.I.T.E. Sports Center has touched thousands of people’s lives in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Beckley said.

A goal is to help E.L.I.T.E. participants learn life skills through sports, Crislip said.

“We are looking forward to the next 10 years,” Crislip said.

Paul LaPann can be reached at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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