The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

January 27, 2012


MSU leader becomes men’s all-time winningest W.Va. college coach

Jaysen Bolen has a little understanding of what his dad accomplished Thursday night.

“He has the most wins by a college coach in West Virginia,” the youngster said, after Mountain State’s 84-67 win over Talladega.

With the win, Mountain State coach Bob Bolen did just that, becoming the all-time leader in coaching wins by a men’s coach at a West Virginia college or university with 479. That broke the previous mark held by legendary Fairmont coach Joe Retton.

And Bolen knew exactly how he was going to celebrate.

“The highlight of the weekend is going to be going to Virginia to watch Jaysen play in a tournament (for the West Virginia Generals),” the record-setting coach said. “We just happen to be off this weekend. So we’re going to get to stay in a hotel and devote our time as a family to watching him play. That’s just how we operate as a family.”

Not much on self-promotion, it was left for others to celebrate Bolen’s coaching achievement.

“Just think about it, the most coaching wins by any coach at a school in West Virginia” said veteran assistant Dave Barksdale, who gave Bolen his first coaching job at Woodrow Wilson over 20 years ago. “It is a tremendous accomplishment. And coach deserves it. I coached against Joe Retton when I was at A-B. He was a tremendous coach and a tremendous man. Coach Bolen is a tremendous coach and a tremendous man.”

“It couldn’t happen to a better person,” said assistant coach Artis Maddox, who played for MSU from 2000-02 and has been an assistant since his playing career ended. “I love coach. I’ve been part of this for 12 years and I haven’t met a better coach or a better person. That is what a lot of people fail to understand, what a great person he is. It’s a blessing on me to be a part of this.”

Zane Gilliard was a part of the 2004 national championship team, the team Bolen still holds in highest esteem. He is now a graduate assistant coach.

“When I first came here, coach changed my whole out look on basketball and life,” Gilliard said. “To be back now (as a graduate assistant) and be part of this is something that’s tremendous. Coach Bolen, he deserves it.”

There was little drama after the first 10 minutes.

MSU led by 19 at the half and coasted in to give Bolen the record.

Isaiah Hill led the way with 18 points. Cam Miller had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Devon Peterson and David Nyarsuk also chipped in 13 each.

But the real number that mattered was 479.

“It’s all about coach tonight,” Miller, a two-year starter, said. “I personally found out about (the record) yesterday. Coach never said a word about it. He’s too humble for that. But we wanted to do this for coach. We talked about it a little. He was all concentrated on the game but we really wanted this for him.”

Bolen said the emotions of the game were more like memories that came back. The coach never left Beckley, save four years of college.

“When I think about Beckley College, I think about my dad (Bob Sr.) bringing me here to all those games,” Bolen said. “I think about the fact that coach Barksdale and I have been together so long, that coach Maddox has been here with us for a long time. Guys like Zane, (and former players-turned-GAs) T.Z. (Mersad Terzic) and A.J. (Adrian Jackson) coming back. That’s the stuff I was thinking about.

“I think if I thought it was coming to an end, of there was a finality to it, I would be more emotional. But coach Barksdale is the youngest 67-year-old coach in America. He’s still a ball of energy. Really, I think that it’s just beginning and we have a lot of years left.”

During the game, a fan, Jack Beard, 92, was taken out in an ambulance with a reported stroke.

After the game, Bolen went to the hospital, talked to the long-time Beckley basketball fan and reported that Beard was fine.

The perfect ending to record-setting day.

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