By Shirley Shuman
Kim West, a well-respected teacher, coach, and basketball official, will be inducted into the Curtis Elam GSU Athletic Hall of Fame October 1. West played on the first women’s team after Glenville returned to women’s basketball. According to information posted by the college, West was “a standout scorer” all four years she played. In addition to her achievements in basketball, she played on the first volleyball team GSU ever had and was a member of the track team.
In her freshman year, a GSU student—and football player, Gerold Cook, coached the team. “I think he learned basketball as the season went along.” she noted, “The season was shorter than now. We played only 15 or 16 games.” The team’s point guard, West had only played competitively in class tournaments before college. She also mentioned that among her teammates were other BCHS grads— Phyllis Taylor, Kim Bickel, and Diane Allison.
After college, West returned to Braxton County as a physical education and health teacher and girls’ basketball coach at Gassaway Junior High School. Girls’ basketball, however, was not the only sport she coached during her time at Gassaway Junior High. “I coached boys’ basketball at Burnsville, and I also coached cheerleading my first year,” she remembers. She distinctly remembers one event that occurred during one game in her time as the Burnsville coach. “We were playing at Walton, and Travis Chapman (Burnsville’s leading scorer) made his first official dunk in a basketball game. What surprised me was that the home team actually stopped the game to give him the game ball,” she said.
When the junior high schools consolidated into Braxton County Middle School, West continued to teach physical education and to coach girls’ basketball. In addition, she took on the additional job of athletic director. She also coached the first girls’ softball team at Braxton County High School. During this time, West became highly respected as she officiated basketball games throughout the state.
Asked how basketball has changed since she played at Glenville, the former player/coach/official first noted that the size of the ball has changed. When she first began playing, women used a smaller basketball. Basketball games became longer, and the three-point shot was added. She noted, too, that women’s/girls’ basketball has become more physical.
This former player, coach, athletic director, and official left an observation for the readers of this newspaper. “No one who has ever been involved in sports has been successful by themselves. They’ve always had teammates who supported them,” she said.