By Bill Nestor
The T. Edward Davis Gymnasium located on the campus of Salem University was a special place to me growing up in Harrison County. It was back then, and remains, the only show in town of college hoops action in our county.
Our love of sports can be traced back to our youth where certain places and people in our past connect us to them. It was my aunt and uncle and the Valley of Learning for me. That is the sign that always caught my eye as we would arrive on campus. Ironically, it is where I learned to love the game of basketball.
We followed the Tigers throughout the 70’s, 80’s and then into the 90’s. I graduated from Fairmont State and went into coaching as soon as I returned to Harrison County. I landed at south Harrison and spent four years in Hawk territory.
I was fortunate enough to coach some exceptional young men, and meet some great people. The Fenstermacher family was one of these families that you meet and you automatically know why God put them in your life. A true blessing from day one is their entire family. The oldest son,Joe, played for four years on the varsity team and I was an assistant under Robert Shields along with the late great Gene Randolph.
Mike Carey was the beach coach of Salem at the time, and we had a discussion about Joe playing for the Tigers. At that time Coach Carey had them competing for national titles and had some of the best teams ever seen in the mountain state. Joe received a scholarship, played four years, and I can count on one hand how many games that I voluntarily missed.
Through those four years at Salem I grew even stronger relationships, and now I enjoy watching Joe’s kids play and coach today.
In 2018, Salem University honored Mike Carey by naming their new court Mike Carey court. Carey was a former standout player before becoming a legendary coach. Carey played from 1977-1980. He returned to his alma mater in1987 as an assistant and then took over the program in 1988. Carey spent 13 years at the helm of the program. During that span, his teams won 20 games or more nine times. Carey guided a pair of squads to the division II Elite Eight and one time in the Final Four. The program was at the height of its glory. The 2000’s came and Carey departed for West Virginia University to run the women’s program.
A few years prior to Carey’s move, I had made a move of my own. My son was born and I went from coaching to the media. I began writing for the Shinnston News and Harrison County General and broadcasting. I spent several years as the color commentator for Salem’s mens and womens games with Reuben Perdue. This was another special relationship that was centered around this gymnasium. Reuben moved away and I have since focused more on the play by play aspect of broadcasting.
This past Saturday I was afforded the opportunity for Homecoming if you will. A chance to go back to where it all started for me. I broadcast the Salem men’s basketball game with D’Youville on the internet. It brought back so many great memories. The Tigers have an impressive team, the facilities look great, and the staff is top notch. Athletic director Alex Joseph, sports information director, Kaden Shoaf, and the rest of the game day staff had everything running as smoothly as possible.
There was plenty of room in the bleachers for more fans. Make an effort to come out and support your county’s only University. They have a great product, special people, and there is a great opportunity for you and your family to make special memories of your own.