Renaissance man: Coaching South wrestling just one of Jeffrey’s talents

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Parkersburg South assistant mat coach Dave Jeffrey, left, and Patriot head coach Shaun Smith look on during a match earlier this season at Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

PARKERSBURG — It’s easy to set goals.

Sacrificing in order to achieve them is another story.

Hard work and success is something which came natural to Dave Jeffrey, a 1971 graduate of Parkersburg South High School.

Throughout the years, the current PSHS assistant mat coach has tried his hardest to help others become the best version of themselves they can be.

Although he wrestled in junior high, he ended up competing in only football and track while being a Patriot in high school. Current assistant wrestling coach Dean Moore had a hand in that.

“The reason I didn’t wrestle in high school is we were playing sandlot football the first weekend of wrestling season and Dean pushed me into a bulldozer blade and it broke my leg into like seven places,” Jeffrey said. “I almost lost my leg and I just never wrestled after that.”

Not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth probably had a lot to do with Jeffrey’s motivation and future success in life. After graduating high school, he earned his degree in human relations from Salem College in 1975.

“I grew up really poor and I always wanted to be good at whatever,” Jeffrey stated. “Rod Oldham, he really took a big interest and helped me out a lot. Not in wrestling, but I really feel I’d been a really good wrestler for him.

“When Mike Hayden came over here to coach football, he really turned me the other way around. I probably would’ve gotten into some serious trouble down the road. If I was ever going to have somebody that I wanted to say I looked up to, he would be one of them. He was a great coach. He really did a good job. After I got older and stuff, I helped coach Oldham coach freestyle.”

During his time at Salem College, Jeffrey not only ran track, but he was an All-American powerlifter. The Tigers even beat West Virginia University. However, he still had the itch for wrestling.

“I started refereeing in 1971. I missed it so much because I didn’t wrestle,” Jeffrey added. “I’m pretty sure I was the youngest guy to referee the state tournament. I reffed the state tournament in 1975. I just always had a lot of drive. I always wanted to be bigger and stronger. The more I lifted the stronger I got. I didn’t really have anybody to help coach me and I got beat one year in body building.

“I couldn’t take it. I spent every day over the top to be the best. You used to win (awards for) body parts. I always had a big set of arms on me. The next year when I went back I decided I was going to win everything so there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind who was going to be the best there and I did it. I didn’t like bodybuilding much.”

His love of powerlifting eventually led to him finding his future wife Mary, who was a dominant powerlifter.

After leaving Salem College, Jeffrey ended up in New Jersey as a YMCA outreach director, but got a better offer to come back home to run the gym and do some non-credit teaching at Parkersburg Community College.

“About two years after PCC, I got a job as program director at Wood County Recreation,” he said. “Back then, they had a huge budget. We ran everything in the county from Williamstown to Mineral Wells. I was working at the YMCA prior to that. I started the Cougar wrestling program when I got the job at the recreation place.

“All those kids in that area went to City Park and they had a wrestling team back then. That was the first year of Dean Moore coaching and the City Park wrestling team won the county championship. It was a huge deal back then because if you won the county you’d probably win the state championship.”

Later on, Jeffrey ended up getting into the gym business, although he noted he always had some sort of gym where he was working out of. He also had four health clubs, one each in Parkersburg, Marietta, Huntington and Barboursville.

“I actually lived in Huntington at that time,” Jeffrey recalled. “The first women’s world championships were in 1978 and there was a girl here I coached and she won the world championships in New Hampshire.

“They had the nationals in Los Angeles and Mary lived in Bakersfield. She was a good looking girl. She set a world record and didn’t know a thing about lifting. She was scary strong.”

Mary, who was named Ms. USA in 1985 for bodybuilding, eventually came back to West Virginia and helped in the gym business.

“I backed off the wrestling officiating a lot and we went all over the world with the USA Powerlifting Federation,” said the Patriot mat assistant coach. “I went to the USSR when it was the USSR for the Goodwill Games. They were on the way down. People were starving and it was bad.

“We went to South Africa when they still had apartheid, Cuba, I was really lucky. We were in South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, all over Europe. It was really nice. I quit coaching the USA Powerlifting Team in 2000-01. Every time I took a team to the world championships we won from like 1982 to 2000.”

Along the way, Jeffrey also earned his masters in psychology from what was then the University of W.Va. Institute. In the late 1990s, Jeffrey found himself teaching psychology classes at Glenville State College and eventually got his Ph.D. During that time, not only did he teach, but he also was seeing patients.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why PSHS head mat coach Shaun Smith likes having him around.

“Dean and Dave have been coaching for an awfully long time,” noted coach Smith. “He brings a very interesting dynamic to everything. He has an interesting perspective on a lot of stuff. He’ll tell you things and mention things that maybe you weren’t even thinking of at the time. It’s good to have those different dynamics.

“I know people give us crap about having so many coaches, but not everyone can be here on the same day at the same time and we have JV who wrestle a lot. Dave is definitely an interesting person and has really helped me a lot. He has eyes in the front and back of his head. I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Of course, when it’s time to be serious and get the work done which is needed to succeed, Jeffrey is one of those guys any youngster would want in their corner. Maybe that’s why he’s been given the nickname “The Funstopper,” after all.

Jeffrey, who also has dabbled in deed research and abstracting, became a certified safety director in 2013 and works for Ohio Valley Water Resources in Mineral Wells.

“I’ve been really lucky and really blessed. I’ve had a lot of good people that’s helped me and it’s just been rewarding,” stated Jeffrey, who turns 66 later this month. “I like all of it. I like dealing with the kids more than anything. I really enjoy the interaction of the family life.

“This (Parkersburg South) is a family. We couldn’t do it without great parents and people probably get sick of me saying that, but you can’t run a program like this without great parents. They do so much it’s incredible.”