WHEELING, W.VA. (WTRF)- It’s Wheeling Central’s Head football coach, Mike Young’s 50th year of coaching.
“Head football coach, head basketball coach but it’s been a great run and a great ride for me because I surround myself with great people,” said Young.
His coaching career dates back to Ohio County in 1971 before Young joined the St. Clairsville Red Devils as a coach the following year. He worked as an assistant at St. C until 1989 before taking over as the head coach in job for 9 more year.
Then in 1997 Young returned to his Alma Mater, Wheeling Central as an assistant to Jim Thomas. During his time as an assistant at Central, the Knights won 3 state titles. Once Thomas passed away, Young took over as head coach, leading the knights to 8 more state championships. But for Young, the success means more than having a state title.
“Those are trophies that we’ve accumulated over the years and they mean a lot but most importantly what they gain from it. Football is one of the greatest games you can ever play because you get knocked down and you got to be able to get back up and you got to play. You got to be aggressive, you got to be dedicated to what you’re doing and I think that’s what life is all about.”
“Mike is a good head coach. He lets us coach. He knows he can’t do everything and we have the ability to challenge him and put in what we want to put in and we spend a lot of time in the film room, the meeting room, but he’s a good on the field coach. He’s a great motivator for these kids,” said Phil Pest a friend of Mike’s and an assistant coach at Central.
One thing is certain, Young has impacted many in his life.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Coach Young. I mean he’s not only helped me be a great football player but a great man. Honestly more of our conversations are about life then they are football so just helping me be a great student, student athlete, and then hopefully father and husband one day. He’s the ultimate role model,” Curtis McGhee, a former Central player.
“He’s like everybody’s favorite uncle. Everybody seems to go to him for advice. A guy who has been coaching for as long as he’s coached, there really isn’t a whole lot of things he hasn’t experienced. You know as a leader, as a parent, as a child, as a sibling, as an honorary uncle and he’s experienced all of it so you kind of go to him. He gives you steady advice. He’s great about not overreacting,” said Jason Rine, an assistant coach at Central.
“He’s helped me in every way shape and form. Any way you can think of. Whether it be football, whether it be school, jobs, life in general,” said Anthony Siebieda, former Central player and an assistant coach.
Young was inducted into the West Liberty Hall of Fame in 2012 and was recently named the number one coach in Class A in W.Va. He says it’s his family and friends who have made him the successful coach he is today.
“Mike is a special person and what make him such a great coach is he cares about people. That wasn’t a development thing that was all along. Mike as a young person cared about people the same way he does today. He treats people very well,” said Tony Filberto, former head coach at Weir High.
“Off the field, he’s a squirrel, loyal. Just a good friend, we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve played against each other and he’s just one of my best friends in coaching,” said Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville’s head football coach.
“I’ve just been proud of him, starting his head coaching career at St. Clairsville and picking it up and doing even better. The older he got, the better he got and usually it works a different way. The older you get the more you start to go downhill.”