The holidays are a time for giving and a time to be with family and friends.
For two local communities, however, the upcoming days will be filled with loss as they deal with the passing of coaches that had tremendous impacts on the students, parents and administrators at their respective schools.
Long time Ritchie County head girls basketball coach and boys and girls cross country coach Terry Spangler and Ravenswood assistant boys basketball coach Dave Hood were taken from their communities and their passing will leave a void that will be hard to fill throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.
I had the pleasure to work with both and I never left either without receiving a heart-felt goodbye and a handshake.
Hood was a fixture at every Ravenswood boys' basketball game and became one at the Red Devils' football games when longtime friend Mick Price took over the duties. The friendship the duo had developed over the years was evident.
When Hood's battle with Lou Gehrig's disease forced him to use a motorized wheelchair to get around town and attend practices, Price would load both up in his own vehicle and follow the team's bus to wherever they were playing that night and then do the same for the trip home.
There are very few people I have met that I would say would do the same thing. But, the bond between Price and Hood, a former player at the school, was nearly as great as that between the Red Devils' head coach and his own family.
Same could be said of the bond between Spangler and the Rebels from Ritchie County.
Spangler taught and coached in Ritchie County for 28 years. His 2004 girls team captured the Class AA/A state championship in cross country while his 2000 squad finished second as middle daughter Missy placed second in a time of 21 minutes, 37.6 seconds.
The Glenville State College football and baseball player was fortunate enough to coach all three of his daughters-Tara, Missy and Kelly-and Missy was selected as the W.Va. Sports Writers Association's Player of the Year in basketball following her senior season as a Rebel.
A 16-year battle with Parkinson's Disease forced him to give up coaching long before he wished, but you could always see him in attendance when the blue and grey were in action-no matter what the sport.
And, you would always receive a warm welcome and a hardy thank you for coming out to cover the athletes that he so cherished.
The Mid-Ohio Valley is truly at a loss with the passing of these two fine gentlemen. Yes, we will miss their coaching abilities, but what we will miss the most is the manner in which they led the young men and women that were left in their trust.
As a parent I would have been proud to have either coach my son.
As a sports writer I was impressed with the loyalties both showed to their schools, their communities and their athletes.
They will both be sorely missed.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org