WHEELING — Mike Young is the face of Central Catholic High School athletics. That face — filled with decades of Maroon Knight success, passion and loyalty — is taking on a fresh new look. Young is yielding his longtime duties as Wheeling Central’s athletic director to take on a new challenge. He will assume the role as Central’s Director of Alumni Relations and Special Programs. It is an assignment Young readily accepted when first approached by Central Catholic President Lawrence E. Bandi.
“I would like to thank Lawrence Bandi and (Principal) Rebecca Sancomb for all the support they gave me as athletic director. I am proud of all the accomplishments we have made,” Young noted. “We have made a great deal of advancements and improvements with our facilities over the past several years. The field at Jesuit, our basketball gymnasium, locker rooms, the fields at The Mount, the 16th Street complex as well as the area where we showcase our all-staters are all things we can all take great pride in,” he continued. “We accomplished so much thanks to our donors, the Bishop, our administration, the hospital, the city and our school. I want to thank all those who helped make our facilities very special for our student-athletes.”
Young will continue as the Maroon Knights’ head football coach. He has guided his alma mater to five state grid championships.
“I’m extremely excited to have Mike Young working directly with me to further advance our alumni relations and work on our recently instituted Hall of Fame,” Bandi said. “Mike’s depth of knowledge of our school’s’ history and his relationships throughout our community will be invaluable.”
Meanwhile, Donnie Murray has been selected to fill Young’s shoes as Central’s new athletic director. He is a 1999 Wheeling Central graduate and current athletic director at Bishop Donahue. The athletic director transition will play out over the next few months. Young will mentor Murray during that process. Prior to his Bishop Donahue duties, Murray served as athletic director, teacher, head baseball coach and volleyball coach at St. John Central while also assisting in football and boys’ basketball. The Bethany College product was honored recently as the OVAC Athletic Director of the Year.
“I think, whether it be in the classroom, in the office, or on the field, it is truly an honor to return to your alma mater in a way to come back and give your talents and your abilities to a place that helped shape you into the person you have become,” Murray said. “For me, in athletics, my passion and determination has always lied in the fact that I was taught so much from so many coaches (Mike Young, Jim Dailer, Terry Edwards) while at Wheeling Central and it is a personal mission to make sure I am able to teach and pass on these values to future generations of student-athletes, including my own sons and daughter.”
“In the classroom, academics always come first. I always say that is why they are student-athletes and not athlete-students. I stress that being a determined, enthusiastic and talented athlete can take you places, but a being a driven student can take you anywhere,” he continued. “I am looking forward to taking the athletic director position at my alma mater and also working with Mrs. Sancomb, Mr. Bandi, Coach Young, the faculty, coaches and the student-athletes in an effort to drive Wheeling Central to the forefront of athletics both in the Ohio Valley and the state of West Virginia.”
In addition to Young’s five state grid crowns, he has amassed a brilliant 116-34 as Maroon Knights’ mentor. Overall, he has 168 career grid wins, guiding St. Clairsville prior to returning to the East Wheeling school. While at St. C., Young was named Eastern District coach of the year twice while guiding the Red Devils to a pair of OVAC championships and six ECOL titles. The 1967 Central grad also coached the St. C. tennis teams to OVAC crowns in 1983 and 1984.
“My new position will free up time, enabling me to do a better job of coaching football. I look forward to not having the 12-14 hour days that go with being an athletic director. I am excited about being involved with public relations and promoting Wheeling Central,” Young said. “I will be working more closely with individuals and groups. But it will be on my clock, not a 24/7 clock.
“I look forward to a new challenge, but I still love coaching football,” he added. “I relish the ability to help teach life lessons and mold young men in that capacity.”
Young directed Wheeling Central to 3 consecutive WV State title wins between 2005-08, tying the West Virginia prep record. Young was inducted into the West Liberty University Hall of Fame in 2012 after a stellar tennis career. That same year, he was accorded the prestigious Wheeling News-Register Bill Van Horne OVAC Coach of the Year Award. In 2007, Young was tabbed as the Dapper Dan Man of the Year. He has guided the Maroon Knights to a sparkling 116-34 record and two OVAC championships, to go with his five state crowns. During his tenure as athletic director, Wheeling Central was recognized by Sports Illustrated as the No. 1 athletic program in West Virginia on two different occasions.
“Coach Young has worked tirelessly to expand the opportunities for our student athletes, improve our athletic facilities, enhance the resources for our teams, and honor our traditions and legacy,” Principal Sancomb said. “He has done all of this while challenging our student athletes to be the best they can be in all areas of their lives by leading ‘championship lives.’ I know he will continue to do this as our football coach and in his new role.”
“We are happy to welcome Donnie back to his alma mater. His experience as an athletic director, coach, educator, and student in Catholic schools has prepared him to lead our athletic department into the future,” she continued. “Donnie will work closely with coaches, student athletes, parents, teachers, and administration to ensure our athletic program is an extension of the classroom and that it continues to grow in opportunity and success.”
Murray takes over his new task with Young’s full support.
“I know Donnie will embrace this opportunity and continue to make Wheeling Central one of the best athletic programs in the OVAC. He is a Central graduate and brings with him a wealth of experience,” Young said.