By Grant Traylor The Herald-Dispatch
CHARLESTON, W.Va — Chris Smith is no stranger to snagging each opportunity afforded to him.
After all, the Charleston native and former Virginia Tech basketball standout still holds Hokies’ records for rebounds in a game (36), season (495) and career (1,508).
On Sunday, he was inducted as a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019, joining fellow Charleston native Randy Moss.
As Smith spoke at the West Virginia Sports Writers Association’s 73rd annual Victory Awards Dinner, his advice to fellow honorees and those in attendance did not differ from his rebounding philosophy.
In Smith’s eyes, sometimes you’ve just got to go grab it before someone else does.
“You’ve got to follow your heart,” Smith said. “Do the thing that your heart tells you to do. If you don’t do what you want to do, you’re cutting yourself short.”
Smith — or “Moose” as others call him — told stories of his prep career with the Charleston Mountain Lions, which spanned the 1954-57 seasons and then his time moving on to Virginia Tech from 1958-61.
Those stories ranged from memories of games played, which included the first 30-point, 30-rebound contest of his career, which came against Marshall in Bluefield, and even those unknown stories, such as eating 36 eggs a day in an attempt to bulk up.
“That’s one thing I don’t recommend,” Smith said to laughter among the crowd.
Smith joined Jerry West as the only unanimous all-Southern Conference selections in 1960 after helping to lead the Hokies to the Southern Conference championship. His career efforts earned him the right to be the only basketball player inducted as a charter member of the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 1982.
Moss, who was not in attendance, blazed the trail from high school standout at DuPont from (1992-95) to Marshall (1996-97) to the NFL (1998-2010, 2012).
In 2018, Moss was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a career which featured 982 receptions, 15,292 yards and 155 touchdowns in 14 years.
Prior to the NFL, Moss wowed fans in the Mountain State — from his high school days as a four-sport standout at DuPont to Marshall University where he shattered records en route to being a Biletnikoff Award winner (nation’s top receiver) and Heisman Trophy finalist.
The one constant about those newly-minted West Virginia Sports Hall of Famers is that their starts came in the Mountain State where their love for sports grew.
In addition to Smith and Moss, there were also 18 high school athletes honored for being the best in their particular field. Some of those honorees included Kennedy Award winner Connor Neal of Fairmont Senior, who also took home the J.R. House Award as the state’s top quarterback, and Wheeling Central’s Adam Murray, who earned the Huff Award and Howley Award as defensive player of year and linebacker of the year in football.
Coach of the year honorees included Webster County’s Michael Gray, who led the Highlanders to an undefeated 28-0 record en route to the Class A boys basketball championship, and Glenville State’s Kim Stephens, who led the Pioneers to a 30-3 record and second-straight Mountain East Conference title.
Gray took home the Van Meter Award as prep coach of the year while Stephens earned the Furfari Award as college coach of the year.
Stephens also offered simple, yet meaningful advice to those young talents in attendance to receive accolades.
“Enjoy your moment,” Stephens said.
Miscellaneous awards presented at the 73rd Victory Awards Dinner included the Morehouse Award, which honors an outstanding sportswriter for their dedication to service within the industry. This year’s recipient was the late Dan Stillwell, whose career started in Welch before moving to Beckley prior to his death in September at the age of 63.
Fairmont Senior’s Anysa Jordan earned the Doug Huff Award for perseverance after battling back from an ACL injury that ended her 2017-18 season to lead the Polar Bears to a Class AA title in 2018-19.
Former West Virginia and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Jevon Carter earned the Hardman Award as the state’s top amateur athlete in 2018.
Harrison Kennedy Scholarship Award recipients included Martinsburg’s Grant Harman and Spring Valley’s Graeson Malashevich. Harman is still undecided while Malashevich will walk on to West Virginia University as a slot receiver.
Hardman Award (Amateur Athlete of Year)–Jevon Carter, West Virginia U.
Furfari Award (College Coach of Year)–Kim Stephens, Glenville State.
Van Meter Award (High School Coach of Year)–Michael Gray, Webster County.
Evans Award (Boys Basketball Player of Year)–Jalen Bridges, Fairmont Senior.
Ostrowski Award (Girls Basketball Player of Year)–Shay-Lee Kirby, Parkersburg.
Dutton Award (Wrestler of Year)–Braxton Amos, Parkersburg South.
Lowery Award (Baseball Player of Year)–Chase DeLauter, Hedgesville.
Rachel Taylor Memorial Award (Softball Player of Year)–Kenzie McCann, Chapmanville.
McCoy Awards (Male & Female Trackpersons of Year)–Freddy Canary, South Harrison, and Tori Starcher, Ripley.
Morehouse Award–Dan Stillwell, Beckley.
Doug Huff Award–Anysa Jordan, Fairmont Senior. Boys Soccer Player of Year–Joe Biafora, University.
Girls Soccer Player of Year–Emilie Charles, Cabell Midland.
Volleyball Player of Year–McKenzie Carpenter, Philip Barbour.
Kennedy Foundation Scholarships–Grant Harman, Martinsburg, and Graeson Malashevich, Spring Valley.
High School football awards:
Kennedy Award (Player of Year) & House Award (Quarterback of Year)–Connor Neal, Fairmont Senior.
Sam Huff Award (Defensive Player of Year) & Howley Award (Linebacker of Year)–Adam Murray, Wheeling Central.
Stydahar Award (Lineman of Year)–Doug Nester, Spring Valley.
Warner Award (Running Back of Year)–Hunter America, Doddridge County.
Moss Award (Receiver of Year)–Evan Parow, University.
Lee Award (Defensive Back of Year)–Grant Harman, Martinsburg.
Walker Award (Special Teams Player of Year)–Graeson Malashevich, Spring Valley.