A good man gone

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – James 4:14

A family and the area lost a good man Saturday when John Retton passed away of an apparent heart attack at age 66.

Continued prayers for the Retton family as they sift through every emotion possible this week.

And, the prayers cannot stop there.

They must continue because, like every family on this earth, the Retton family now has a new normal.

His wife Patricia is without a husband of more than 46 years.

Children are without a dad, siblings without a sibling, grandchildren without a grandfather.

I first met John years ago when I got into this business.

He was everywhere, not just at Madonna games watching his grandsons play.

I saw him at Legion games, basketball games, baseball games, football games.

He scouted for the Blue Dons.

He also did about a million things behind the scenes for Madonna that few know about.

Outside of God and his family, he lived his life for kids.

All kids.

He was a baseball guy.

Loved the game.

Coached the game.

Played the game.

Was always around the game.

He was also a football guy.

Loved the game.

Coached the game.

Played the game.

Was always around the game.

When he was on the road scouting for the Blue Dons football team, I could always count on a phone call late Friday night asking for the scores around the area.

He wanted to know.

He had friends everywhere.

John retired from his education career in 2010 after 35 years.

I was able to be around John a good bit while grandson Connor Arlia played football and basketball and dabbled in baseball for the Blue Dons.

You could see the smile on John’s face for miles when Connor decided to be a preferred walk on at West Virginia University to play football.

“Connor’s starting today,” John said not too long ago with a smile a mile wide.

I’ve been told that John was a demanding coach.

But, that’s OK.

Demanding is fine.

Demanding is great.

Demanding helps the youth understand that hard work pays off and hard work is infectious.

You can ask the Wintersville Golden Warriors and Indian?Creek Redskins baseball teams, along with the Post 33 squads.

He was a part of OVAC championships in 1989 and 1990 and four state championships with Post 33 in 1989, 1994, 1995 and 1998.

He started the Wellsburg Legion team in 1985 before heading over to be a part of the Post 33 program from 1987-2002.

His 1990 and 1991 Wintersville teams went to the OHSAA regional tournament and his ’91 squad went 26-1.

He was the co-founder of the Post 33 Baseball Camp in 1995.

All that was not done by accident.

The cutoff date for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference girls basketball tournament is today and, in most instances, the top four seem to be set.

In Class 5A, the Indian Creek girls will head to either Morgantown or University next week.

In 4A, it appears that Steubenville Big Red will welcome either Martins Ferry, Oak Glen or St. Clairsville.

In 3A, River and Fort Frye have separated themselves from the field.

In 2A, there will be some interesting games between Wheeling Central, Bridgeport, Shadyside and Clay-Battelle.

In 1A, Madonna will hit the road, visiting St. John Central.

The finals are set for Feb. 9 at Ohio University-Eastern.

A big change this year is that the time between games has be cut back to 2 hours between starts with Class 2A kicking things off at 10 a.m. on both Saturdays.

It’s time for Madonna and Weir High to sign a 20-year contract to play football.

They will open the season for a 1 p.m. Saturday game with each team alternating on keeping the cash.

Each year a local charity can benefit from the community coming together to watch teenagers play football.

This is more than just football.

One year fans must bring a canned good along with their admittance fee.

The next year fans must bring diapers.

It is a lot more than the lunatic fringe from both sides seeing beyond their own noses.

It’s about the community.

It cannot be about one team beating the other.

It cannot be a short-sighted outlook on either side.

It must be about a community full of adults coming together because it is the right thing to do.

Why a 20-year contract?

Because then the short-sided people can stop whining about what team is going to win.

Also, once the 20-year contract is signed, in years 18, 19 and 20 of the contract means those kids would not have even been born when the contract was signed.

You don’t like a 20-year contract?

Make it 30 years.

People need to stop seeing Red and stop seeing Blue and start seeing the community, the kids, our kids.

Some games will be really good.

Some games will be blowouts.

So what?

It’s time.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)