Where Are You Now? Mark Cisar
Editors Note: Where Have You Gone is a ten-week series featuring notable local athletes of yesteryear. We take a look back at their playing days, as well as a glimpse of where they landed after their playing days ended.
Mark Cisar, pound for pound, was one of the most fearless athletes to play sports at Magnolia High School. Only listed at 5’10” and 165 pounds in high school, he excelled in every facet of every sport he played. Not surprisingly, Mark was like a coach on the field or court, a golden result of being the son of the Legendary Coach Dave Cisar. The elder Cisar taught him the game, competitiveness, and instilled toughness in him.
Dave and Beverly Cisar of New Martinsville parented four sons. Aaron, Mark, the late Ryan, and Derek. Mark was the smallest in size, but like his brothers, he excelled in football and baseball at Magnolia High School. Their father and coach did not cut them any slack and expected the best from them. Dave Cisar coached toughness, and a fiery competitiveness which resulted in winning seasons, and earned respect from coaches near and far.
Mark, a 1994 Magnolia grad, was equally gifted on the football field, the baseball diamond, and the hardwood as a basketball player.
Cisar played quarterback, safety, placekicker, and punter on Blue Eagle teams that compiled a two-year record of 25-3, finishing as the Class AA state runner-up twice under the tutelage of his father. In two seasons as a starter and one as a backup, he passed for Ohio Valley record totals of 5,193 yards and 64 touchdowns.
As a junior, he passed for a record 2,691 yards and 34 TDs. He also kicked a valley and state record total of 85 points and had a record-tying 99-yard TD pass as a junior.
In baseball, he was a three-time All-West Virginia Class AA selection, All-OVAC, and All-Valley pitcher. He was also a regular in basketball, scoring 45 points in a game on one occasion.
Mark Cisar is the only two-time winner of a state football “Player of the Year” award in OVAC history, having won West Virginia’s Kennedy Award in 1992 and ’93. He was also the Gatorade “Player of the Year” in 1992 and was a two-time Class AA all-state captain. He was a two-time All-OVAC and All-Valley selection.
He earned a baseball scholarship to Charleston Southern University in South Carolina where he was a four-year starter, as a rare full-time position player and pitcher. He was named Big South Conference “Player of the Year” in 1997 and was a three-time all-conference pick. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and was the Red Sox Rookie League “Pitcher of the Year” in 1998. In 1999, he was selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Team and won a South Atlantic League title in ’99 as a member of the Augusta Green Jackets. He then played for the Capitales de Quebec, an independent league team, and was an all-star in 2002, and the Northern League “Relief Pitcher of the Year.”
He is a member of the OVAC and Charleston Southern Halls of Fame.
His professional baseball career was short-circuited when he tore his labrum.
After every save or every loss, the phone call he would make following the game was constant to the man that taught him everything, his father.
“That’s the guy I wanted to talk to every night,” Mark said. “He’s my best friend. When things did not go right, that is the first guy I would call. When things did go right, that’s the first guy I would call.”
I learned everything from him,” Cisar said. “He taught me the game. He taught me to love the game. He taught me to be competitive and to hustle constantly. That is why I love the game. We were able to talk the game and live the game every day.”
Although, he never quite reached the big leagues, Mark Cisar’s work ethic passed down by his father is what pushed him to achieve such greatness.
“He was about 2 inches from making the big leagues,” Coach Dave Cisar said. “That would have been great just to get a smell of it. I pushed him awfully hard, and he just got better and better.”
The journey through high school and through the minors might not have been easy but that is what makes it so special.
“It was very beneficial to have a dad who pushed me,” Mark Cisar said. “Nothing was ever easy. It was a grind, but it definitely paid off playing for him.”
Cisar earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and was a substitute teacher for five years in the Wetzel County School system before going back to Charleston, S.C. to serve as a health and physical education teacher as well as an assistant football coach.
Mark was hired as head football coach at Union Local High School, guiding the Jets to a 9-1 record and their first-ever OHSAA playoff berth in 2007. He was named the Eastern District’s Division IV “Co-Coach of the Year.” In the following year, Cisar again took the Jets to the playoffs, advancing to the 2nd round. They finished the season 10-2, breaking the school record (set the year before) for wins in a single season. He was also Athletic Director and Head Baseball coach for the Jets.
Cisar was hired at West Liberty University as the Hilltoppers pitching coach in 2014. WLU Coach Eric Burkle said, “In the game of baseball, any time you can add a Cisar to your staff, you’re doing something right. Our pitching staff is a great mix of veterans and young guys who have already shown the ability to compete with the best in the conference. I really believe Mark can help take them to the next level with his enthusiasm and expertise.”
“I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to coach at West Liberty. It was great to work with Coach (Eric) Burkle and a real good learning experience,” Cisar said. “Coaching in college is exciting. They really want to play at that level.”
The Marshall County Board of Education in 2017 named Mark Cisar as their head baseball coach to replace a legendary coach Bob Montgomery, who stepped down after nearly a half-century at the helm, amassing more than 800 wins and a 1985 state championship.
Selecting Mark Cisar as the Monarchs’ new baseball boss seemed to be the correct choice. Cisar is well known in Ohio Valley circles for his baseball expertise, passion, acumen, and willingness to help any aspiring athlete.
There is something about baseball that brings a father and son closer together. Whether it is on the ballfield or playing catch in the backyard, baseball is a bond and a connection that will never be broken.
Magnolia coach Dave Cisar and John Marshall coach Mark Cisar share that connection.
Mark Cisar was a high school baseball standout at Magnolia, where his father coached him from 1991-94.
Dave Cisar has accumulated more than 900 wins during his many years as the Magnolia skipper, but a “W” was not to be, when his son earned his first victory at the helm of John Marshall in a 12-2 win over his dad.
I am certain Dave wanted to win the game but was also excited that his son was the one that beat him that night.
Cisar’s transition to the Monarchs head coach was made easier by the fact he knew his future players well. He is a teacher at JM.
Mark Cisar, 45, resides in St. Clairsville with his wife, Angie, and their four children: Maddie 16, Jacob, 12, and twin sons Isaiah and Jonah, 5.
Friday, April 23, 2021 will be another special day for father and son as they will square off against each other on the baseball diamond at Magnolia High School. Mark will bring his John Marshall Monarchs squad to New Martinsville to battle the Blue Eagles for bragging rights between the two. But there will be no losers in this matchup because Dave and Mark are both winners. Good luck to both!