Inside the Huddle event raises $30K for local youth

Photo by Josh Hughes West Virginia University play-by-play commentator Tony Caridi speaks to the audience at Saturday’s Inside the Huddle event benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg.

VIENNA –Food, fun and West Virginia University football all came together for a worthy cause Saturday at the Parkersburg Country Club.

The second annual Inside the Huddle event helped raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg with $30,000 worth of proceeds coming from tickets purchased by the general public among other fundraising tactics. The event originally spawned from the Boys & Girls Club’s annual fundraiser dinner. The 2019 dinner itself was sponsored by WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center. Those ticket buyers got to dine at the country club and listen to the voice of Mountaineer athletics, Tony Caridi.

That money raised helps the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg operate and serve the most vulnerable demographic in the area. It highlights how much the community means to the organization’s executive director, Ben Shuman.

“This is one of the major fundraisers that we host ourselves to support what we do for our kids,” Shuman said prior to the night’s proceedings. “This is one of the critical ways that we make sure that we’re able to do and meet the needs of the children we are serving throughout the year. This is vitally important for us to be able to accomplish our mission.”

After Dr. Gabriella Olson of WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center gave a warm welcome to the crowd of around 200, Shuman took to the podium and reiterated why the event means so much. He added, in part: “Every year, we’re serving over a thousand kids at the Boys & Girls Club from all walks of life.”

Shortly after dinner was served, Caridi came to the podium and shared his insight into West Virginia football. He covered everything from former head coach Dana Holgorsen’s resignation to the outlook on most every position on the team, but it was his words about new head coaching hire Neal Brown that drew the most interest from the crowd.

“Here’s what I think of the new coach,” Caridi started. “I’ve got a man crush.”

That response drew laughs from the crowd, as Caridi explained his only half-joking comment with ease.

“You wanna know? I’ve got a man crush. Because, over the course of 35 years, I have had the honor to work with a lot of great coaches,” Caridi said to the crowd that was eagerly awaiting his response. “I’ve seen how they operate basketball-wise and football-wise. To me, this guy hits every single possible category that I think you look for, and especially, it fits in West Virginia. As I’ve said many times before, West Virginia is a good job. West Virginia is a hard job, and if you don’t fully understand that, then you’ve got no chance.”

Caridi continued to heap praise on Brown by comparing him to some other notable WVU coaching standouts. He said that the Kentucky native is “equal parts Don Nehlen and Bill Stewart” and was like “(former WVU basketball coach) John Beilein from an X’s and O’s standpoint.”

Several other companies and organizations sponsored certain seating arrangements in what was a time to come out and support the very best of what Parkersburg has to offer today’s youth.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com