GLENVILLE, W.Va. - For over a century, the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) has been the governing body of high school athletics in the state. For the last 61 years, there has been a common denominator in the upper administration of the organization;
Glenville State College.
These days, as the major decisions are made at the WVSSAC Headquarters on the Staunton Turnpike in Parkersburg, Greg Reed is a key player. The former GSC basketball player, from the Class 1987, is now serving as the organization’s Assistant Executive Director. Reed is simply continuing a strong Pioneer tradition of former GSC athletes reaching the highest levels of Athletic Administration.
This amazing run of leadership began in 1959, when Gordon Eismon (Class of 1934) became the first ever Assistant Executive Secretary of the WVSSAC. Shortly afterward, he became the Executive Secretary after the death of William Fugitt.
Eismon, a Spencer native, was a four-year starter at right tackle for the Pioneers, and was a mainstay on some of the great teams of legendary head coach Nate Rohrbough. Eismon served in the role of Executive Secretary until 1975, and saw a major evolution in the role of the state’s high school sports.
During Eismon’s tenure, the state basketball tournament moved from Morgantown to the new Charleston Civic Center, and the state track meet extended to two classes at the Old Laidley Field. The state football playoffs were expanded to include four teams in each class in 1972. Eismon was elected to GSC’s Curtis Elam Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
Eismon was followed in 1975 by another GSC alumnus; Sam Williams. Williams (Class of 1946) had built a great reputation as a football official for both the high school and college ranks, and had also been a long-time Principal. The Wirt County native oversaw a very progressive period for the Commission.
Williams’ tenure included the expansion of the championships to include girls’ sports, most of which began officially in the 1970s. There was a girls’ division at the State Track Meet in 1975, and in 1976, there was a Girls’ State Basketball Tournament for all three classification hosted in Buckhannon.
Football playoffs expanded to eight teams under Williams’ leadership, the State Wrestling Tournament expanded to two classes, and the State Boys’ Basketball Tournament was moved into the new Charleston Civic Center Coliseum. The early 80’s would be a true Golden Era for the event.
Williams’ retired in 1986, and was replaced by another GSC grad; Coach Bill Hanlin. A football star at Glenville in the early 50’s, the 1953 graduate would return as head coach for the Pioneers from 1965-74. His 1973 team would finish as the NAIA National Runner-Up.
Hanlin was able to continue the expansion work that was put into motion by Williams, and the state tournaments continued to be major social extravaganzas. In 1988, soccer became a state championship sport on his watch, and was a quick success with wide participation.
Hanlin, a Sistersville native, was voted to the GSC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, the inaugural class. As head coach at St. Mary’s High School, his 1963 football team was undefeated.
Hanlin was replaced in 1989 by another GSC graduate; Jim Hamrick. The father of current Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick and former WV DNR Director Ed Hamrick, Jim has forged an incredible career on several fronts. The long-time coach and administrator, continued to compete as a golfer and runner well into his later years, and recently played in a GSC alumni basketball game in 2019 at the age of 85.
Hamrick continued the growth of the State Championships. Football was expanded to the current 16-team playoff field. As a long-time official as well, he played a major role in that area of SSAC operations. The Meadow Bridge native was primarily a basketball and baseball player at GSC, graduating in 1958. He has returned to Glenville and living on the family farm just a few miles from the college, he remains a regular at the Glenville Golf Club and at GSC events.
Following Hamrick’s tenure, GSC alumnus Gerald Trembush served as the Assistant Executive Secretary to Warren Carter. Trembush worked with Carter as the WVSSAC moved into the digital age. He remained with the Commission until 2001.
During this time, the sport of swimming was added to the Championship schedule. Trembush was a Western, Pennsylvania native and attended Rosgraber High School. It was a forerunner with several other schools for what is the current Belle Vernon High School. He is a 1968 GSC graduate.
The 20th century closed with the era of massive consolidation beginning to wind down. The Super Six was moved to Wheeling’s Island Stadium in 1994. In 2001, the Carter/Trembush Era ended. The new regime included new Executive Secretary Mike Hayden, and Assistant Executive Secretary Gary Ray.
With the hiring of Ray, the streak continued for GSC graduates in the Commission’s upper leadership. Ray, a native of Winfield, was a 1971 graduate, and team captain of Coach Hanlin’s 1970 Pioneer squad. He was a long-time coach and administrator in Fayette County after his career at GSC. Ray succeeded Hayden as Executive Director in 2007, and remained until his retirement in 2016. He was selected to the GSC Hall of Fame in 2013.
During Ray’s time at the WVSSAC, the State Baseball Tournament was moved out of the historic Watt Powell Park and into the sparkling new Appalachian Power Park. The Championships across the board embraced the digital age of the new millennium, as several of the championships grew in sponsorship, branding, and in streaming and video presentation.
In 2016, it was Reed who has stepped in to continue this tradition. Working as the Assistant Director to Executive Director Bernie Dolan, the Commission has carried on the century plus mission of the great organization. The current regime has also made the move to a four-class system in basketball, which will begin implementation in 2021.
Reed was a standout guard for Coach Gary Nottingham at Glenville, graduating in 1987. He went on to coach and teach at Nicholas County High School before going to Martinsburg as Athletic Director and Assistant Principal in 2003.
Joining the WVSSAC in 2016, West Virginia High School athletics is entering the 2020s on sound footing. With the past year presenting monumental challenges to the entire athletic world, Reed is a part of a staff that is facing a time of unprecedented decision-making issues.
One thing is for sure…the WVSSAC will come out of this struggle standing. Just like it did with World War I, World War II, and a century of growth, consolidation, and change.
Glenville’s history in athletic administration has also extended to the world of collegiate athletics. Former GSC basketball player Mike Reed served a stint as Commissioner of the old WVIAC in the mid-80's, and former GSC football player Sam Marchio served as the conference's Director of Officiating for several decades.
And through it all, there have been alumni of Glenville State College leading the state of West Virginia…leading the youth of our state as they live and chase their dreams.