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Three Former MHS Athletes To Be Enshrined

By Staff | Jul 8, 2009


For the Wetzel Chronicle

Three student-athletes from the decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s will be recognized at the 24th annual Magnolia High School Alumni Life Achievement Awards Banquet.

George Wetzel, Dr. Terrell Coffield, and Greg Swords will be honored at the public banquet on Aug. 1 at Magnolia High School in New Martinsville. They are among eight honorees at the annual fete for former Blue Eagle athletes sponsored by the Magnolia Athletic Boosters.

Tickets for the banquet will be available at Witschey’s Market and other outlets in New Martinsville or by calling banquet chairman Brent Gamble at (304) 455-3234.

Here are capsule summaries on the three honorees, with graduation class:

WETZEL (1953)-A four-year, 10-letter Blue Eagle performer in football, basketball, and baseball, he was a regular member of top-record Magnolia football and baseball teams in the early 1950’s.

He played fullback on three teams which recorded records of 8-1-1, 8-2, and 6-3-1. The senior season mark of 8-1-1 was the best at Magnolia in 15 years or since the 1937 team also ended at 8-1-1.

As a senior, he earned mention on the All-Valley honor roll. He also was a standout on the 1953 baseball team which was unbeaten until bowing to eventual W. Va. one-class champion Fairview in the state tournament at Parkersburg.

After attending West Liberty State for a year, he joined the Ormet Corporation where he worked 39 years before retiring. He was active in local youth organizations, the Magnolia Boosters, and New Martinsville School PTA.

He managed Little League baseball teams for 17 years and was instrumental in starting a youth football program in the late 1960’s.

He and wife Mary Kay reside in New Martinsville and are the parents of four sons, Stephen, Michael, Jeffrey, and Timothy; and a daughter, Aimee Kay Tallman.

COFFIELD (1968)-At Magnolia, he was a four-year Blue Eagle golfer and three-year team captain. He also ran track for two years. As a senior, he received the Bob Bailey Award. He graduated from Bethany College and received his M.D. degree from the West Virginia U. Medical School before serving his Radiology Residency at the University of Vermont.

Since 1979, he has worked as a Diagnostic Radiologist at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in his hometown of Bennington. He served as chairman of the department from 1986-2007 and was president of the hospital medical staff in 1995-96. He is a past president of the Vermont Chapter of American College of Radiology and served on numerous hospital boards and committees.

He also has been an active skier and golfer. He served as president of the Bill Koch Youth Cross Country Ski League and has been a volunteer at local and regional cross country ski events as well as competing in the World Masters Cross Country Ski Championships. In golf, he won the Vermont Mid-Amateur Golf Championship in 1997 and competed in the U.S. Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur Golf Tournaments as well as the British Mid-Amateur and Senior Tournaments. He also ran in the 1995 Boston Marathon. He and wife Pamela have three daughters-Rachel, Jessica, and Lauren.

SWORDS (1968)-A four-sport, 11-letter winner in football, basketball, baseball, and track, he earned all-state honorable mention two years in baseball and served as team captain in both basketball and baseball. He also was a member of a state championship shuttle hurdle unit in track and won an OVAC high school crown. He also played four years of American Legion baseball for Post 28 and was selected the Most Athletic Senior for 1968.

He received an Industrial Management degree from WVU and a mathematics degree from West Liberty State plus a master’s degree in Safety Management from WVU.

He was a teacher at Magnolia for 29 years as well as coach of girls basketball, girls track and cross country. He’s the winningest Blue Eagle girls basketball mentor and his girls track teams won 10 regional titles, five OVAC crowns, and four W. Va. state championships.

He also founded the Wetzel/Tyler Track League and was twice Ohio Valley Track Coach of the Year and twice W.Va. state Coach of the Year plus W.Va. Girls Basketball Coach of the Year in 1984.

Swords also served on the UPI Board of Coaches for W.Va. Girls Basketball and was on the state rules interpreter committees for track, cross country, and girls basketball.

At Magnolia, he was head of the mathematics department, a club and class advisor, and served on numerous committees and worked on various school projects.

After retiring from Magnolia in 2006, he has been employed at River High School.

He and wife, the former Rebecca Anne Williams, reside in Wheeling.

He is the father of four daughters, Katie, Vicki, Beth and Nicole; and three step children, Matt, Wendy, and Ben.