Dr. Robert (Bob) Zaleski
(Class of 1966)
One of Wheeling Central Catholic’s all-time standouts on the football field and in the classroom during the 1960’s, Dr. Robert (Bob) Zaleski was selected as a fullback on the West Virginia all-state team during his senior year along with finishing second in the Kennedy Award voting which selects the best football player in the Mountain State and he was recognized by Scholastic Magazine as an honorable mention All-American.
During his three-years as a starter (1963 through 65), the Maroon Knights won three straight West Virginia Catholic state championships and incurred just three losses during this highly-successful span. Also Zaleski earned first-team all-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference laurels and was captain of the all-City team. Nicknamed the “Bulldozer” because of his fearless running style that saw him love to punish defenders trying to tackle him, Zaleski averaged 6.1 yards per carry throughout his high school career. In addition to football, Bob ran track for four years and competed in basketball and wrestling for one season each.
Because of his success in the classroom, collecting straight A’s and graduating No. 3 in his class, Zaleski was probably one the WCHS’ most highly recruited players ever as he had over 60 scholarship offers. Among the school’s seeking his services, were Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Kentucky Vanderbilt, Indiana, Duke, West Virginia and most of the Ivy League schools. He eventually chose Duke and played three seasons for the Blue Devils despite incurring numerous back injuries.
Football became the catalyst for Zaleski’s collegiate academic success. He enrolled in Pre-Med at Duke and later attended WVU and Penn State to become an orthopedic surgeon. His vision was always to someday help young athletes with their health problems. Soon, after starting his medical practice in his home town of Wheeling, Zaleski became known as Dr. Z. For many years he devoted countless hours walking the football sidelines during games at schools throughout the Oho Valley, including River, Central Catholic High School, The Linsly School, Wintersville and Steubenville.
Also, for 34 years he was recobnized as a true humanitarian by charitably helping many local and Maroon Knight athletes with their orthopedic health problems.
In 2003 he became a Nationwide figure when he represented the Doctors of West Virginia on the Tort Reform issue. His leadership helped result in Tort Reform being adopted in 34 states.