Dr. Rhonda Noble, WLU professor of physical education and faculty member in the College of Education, was recently honored by the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) when the 10th annual OVAC Hall of Fame Ceremony took place in a formal ceremony held at WesBanco Arena, Wheeling. Noble is a 1983 graduate of WLU and earned her master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University and her Doctor of Education degree at WVU.
Noble was a three-sport star from 1979-82 for the Hilltoppers, excelling in volleyball, softball, and basketball. In volleyball, Noble was a three time All-Conference selection, leading the Lady ‘Toppers to a WVIAC Regular Season and Tournament Championship in 1981. She also was named to the WVIAC All-Tournament Team on three occasions. In softball, she earned All-WVIAC honors two times, and also played a prominent role on the women’s basketball team for two years.
Following her graduation from WLU, Noble returned to the hilltop campus as the college’s volleyball coach. During her tenure, she amassed 144 wins, including a conference title in 1987. She also was named WVIAC Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1991. Besides her volleyball duties, she also served as an assistant softball coach for seven seasons.
“I am honored to join the OVAC Hall of Fame. When you think of all the athletes from all the schools that have competed in the OVAC it makes you realize what a prestigious tribute it is,” Noble said. A complete list of 2013 inductees includes:
- OVAC Family, Thomas E. Rataiczak (Bellaire), OVAC Executive Secretary/Treasurer
- OVAC Contributor, Tim McCoy (Jefferson Union) of WTOV-TV9
- Media, Richard “Hoot” Gibson (St. Clairsville) of The Times Leader
- Coaches, Nick Aloi (East Liverpool) and Jim Thomas (Wheeling Central)
- Officials, John Howell (Lancaster Fairfield Union) and Don Zinni (Yorkville)
- 1940s Athlete, Harry “Moo” Moore (Moundsville)
- 1950s Athletes, Ron “Cy” Godfrey (Martins Ferry) and Ken Vargo (Martins Ferry)
- 1960s Athletes, Jim Brown (Martins Ferry) and Larry Marmie (Barnesville)
- 1970s Athletes, Rhonda Noble (St. Clairsville) and Peri Powell (Martins Ferry)
- 1980s Athletes, Mark Emmerling (East Liverpool) and Blaine Rose (Stanton)
- 1990s Athletes, Sylvia Crawley (Steubenville) and Ben Taylor (Bellaire)
- 2000s Athlete, Bethany Piccolini (St. Clairsville) and Jedidiah Stephen (Shenandoah)
Five “Legends of OVAC Member Schools” were also honored at the banquet, including John “Zip” Behen (Cambridge), Ken Cunningham (East Liverpool), Russell “Tuss” Edwards (Martins Ferry), Bob Hugh (Scio) and Joel Jones (Weirton Dunbar). The “Legends” category recognizes athletes and coaches who competed prior to the inception of the OVAC in 1943 or while their schools were not members of the conference.
This year’s group of inductees brought the five-year total of Hall of Famers to 179, with 45 others honored in the “Legends” category.
A special Distinguished Service Award was presented to Judge Frank Fregiato, who has served as legal council for the OVAC since 1977.
The OVAC, now in its 71st year of action, remains one of the premier high school athletic leagues in the nation. Plaques of the OVAC Hall of Fame inductees are on permanent display at WesBanco Arena.
Dr. Noble is the chairwoman of WLU’s Department of Health and Human Performance, which offers bachelor degrees in health education, physical education, exercise physiology and athletic training. Additionally, the department offers a master’s program in sport leadership and coaching emphasis in conjunction with the Master of Arts in Education degree.