West athletes honor a coach

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By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Amanda Amsel West High School track athletes gathered for a reunion. Here (from left to right) are Mike Neal, Bill Stevens, Tony Young, Coach Bill Huckaba, Steve Clemons, Randy Thomas, Marvin Mallory and Mike Redman.
Messenger photo by Amanda Amsel
West High School track athletes gathered for a reunion. Here (from left to right) are Mike Neal, Bill Stevens, Tony Young, Coach Bill Huckaba, Steve Clemons, Randy Thomas, Marvin Mallory and Mike Redman.

A former cross country and track coach from West High School was recognized by his students at an annual banquet.

Coach Bill Huckaba hosted a reunion for his former athletes on May 3 at the Hometown Buffet in west Columbus.

“We have this every couple of years and try to get former runners together to catch up,” Huckaba said. “It is nice to see where everyone’s lives have taken them and just to catch up.”

A coach from 1967 to 1980, Huckaba coached six city championships during his career.

“I loved coaching, but as my three children got older and became involved in activities it became to hard to do both,” he said. “During my time coaching though I developed friendships with my athletes that I still have today.”

A health and physical education teacher, Huckaba retired from West High School in 1998 and started hosting the reunions in 1999.

“It is fun to look back and remise on our better years,” said Harold Lee, a West High School former track athlete. “Coach Huckaba was an exceptional coach that I looked up to. Everyone wanted to be on his team, so if he asks me attend these reunions I always come.”

Lee said it is also fun to see people he hasn’t seen since high school.

“I just want to thank Coach Huckaba for helping me find a hidden talent that I never knew I had,” said Michael Lee, Harold’s younger brother and a long jump state champion. “He taught me what being on a team really means and gave me a sense of togetherness.”

Some of Huckaba’s former athletes have gone on to do great things, including CNN correspondent Joe Johns. When Johns was inducted into the West High School Hall of Fame he thanked Coach Huckaba for his dedication to coaching and accredited him to helping him make it to state in track.

“He was a great coach and was always there for you,” said Melissa Carr, a former cross-country athlete at West High School. “He wasn’t a tough coach, but he got the job done. He also always believed in you, even when you didn’t.”

If you are interested in attending a West High School track reunion, contact Coach Huckaba at 846-8749.

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