For as long as I can remember sports have been a huge part of my life and continue to be. In Lewis County over the years, there have been a variety of sports played from the youth level to high school and sports for adults.
Over the years, Lewis County has had some of the longest running youth sports in the area. Both basketball and baseball for youths in the county have been around since the 1950s.
The basketball program for the youth has provided a friendly and positive sports atmosphere for thousand of young girls and boys over the years, from the days of the Weston Jaycees program to the current Lewis County Youth Basketball League. The league just this year held its 69th-Annual Stars of Tomorrow Tournament.
In baseball, thousands of youth over the years have enjoyed playing, from Little League to the current PONY Baseball/Softball provided by the Lewis Baseball Association.
The local league has played at various venues throughout the county, including fields in Weston and to the Robert J. Conley Sports Complex at Butchersville, its current location, which houses four fields and has an indoor hitting facility that is utilized by youth throughout the entire year.
The more recent years have seen youth leagues start in soccer and wrestling, and both have been successful over the years, as well. The youth soccer program in the county has brought home several Kohl Cups titles for Lewis County. The young boys and girls of the county have also been able to enjoy football in the youth level, from Pop Warner to the Mountaineer Youth Football League of today.
Schools throughout the county have had a long history of sports over the years. In the early years, sports were played at Weston High School, Jane Lew High School, Walkersville High School and St. Patrick High School.
In 1966, St. Pat’s won the Class A Basketball Championship. After the consolidation of Weston, Jane Lew and Walkersville High to form Lewis County High School, sports also were being played at the three junior high schools in the county. Lewis County High School has had its share of memorable sports history since its consolidation.
The Lewis County High School baseball team earned a runner-up finish in the Class AAA State Baseball Tournament. After winning the Sectional title in 1986, the Minutemen baseball team defeated Oak Hill 12-7 in he regional final to earn their trip to Charleston. In the opening round, Lewis County would gain a 6-4 win over Martinsburg to gain a berth in the title game for 1986.
In the title game, the Minutemen were one out away from a state title, only to see Huntington East tie the game and win in 10 innings by a score of 8-6. Lewis County boys basketball teams over the years have made five State Tournament appearances.
The first trip was in 1969, followed by three trips in the 1970s, and their final one in 1985. The first trip that I remember was in 1977, when Lewis County defeated Richwood in the regional final game held at with a full house at the Lewis County High School Gym.
In 1985, Lewis County Defeated Buckhannon Upshur 57-55 in the sectional finals and then North Marion 65-56 in the regional final. They would then would see their season end in the opening round of the state tournament to Logan by a score of 89-62.
The Lewis County Maids basketball team would make their first state tourney appearance in 1988, when they defeated North Marion 34-31 in the regional championship. The Maids soccer team made their first state tournament appearance during the 2015 season.
The Lewis County football team went from playing in its first game in 1966 to waiting until to the 2001 season to earn its first trip to the state playoffs, when they capped of a 7-3 regular season with a 19-7 win over Robert C. Byrd and earned the state playoff berth.
The Minutemen would fall to Morgantown in the opening round 28-0. The Minutemen football program then added five more trips to the state playoffs, starting with the 2009 season. Lewis County also mad state playoff appearances in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In the 2012 season, the football team would set the school mark for wins in a season when they would finish at 8-2, following 27-14 win over Elkins. That would earn them a number 11 seed in the 16-team field, where they would meet University High, the number 6 seed.
The Hawks and Minutemen had faced each other in the season opener, with University gaining a 35-7 win. In the opening round playoff game, Lewis County would gain its first ever playoff win, with a 24-23 victory. The Minutemen season would end the following week with a 41-14 loss to George Washington High School.
Over the years, adults have had sports to play, as well, which have included golf at Lake Riley, Deerfield Country Club and Stonewall Resort.
Adults have also had enjoyed playing fast pitch softball, slow pitch softball, basketball and volleyball in different leagues over the years.
So as time moves forward, there are sure to be a lot more memorable moments to happen in sports on Lewis County.
Sports are a positive environment for youth. From my experience in both playing sports and coaching and also covering sports I have made lifelong friendships that I cherish from it.