The person most closely associated with the sport of swimming in the area and the one who has helped elevate the conference from a financial standpoint by leaps and bounds are the first two selections for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference's Class of 2014.
Bill Brubaker, the long-time swim coach at The Linsly School and the meet director of the OVAC Swimming Championships, is this year's inductee in the OVAC Family category while James Companion of Scholastic Sports Marketing was picked as an OVAC Contributor.
Those two, along with several other individuals who will be announced in the coming weeks in the coaches, officials and athletes categories, will be formally inducted at the 11th annual OVAC Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, Aug. 16 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling
Last week, the five "Legends of OVAC Schools" who will be saluted at the banquet were announced. They include Connie Sanford Richardson of Caldwell, Porter Mackey of East Liverpool, Andy Tonkovich of Benwood Union, John Wood of Magnolia and Bill Young of Martins Ferry.
The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Robinson Auto Group of Wheeling, and the OVAC Sports Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena.
Here's a look at the first two selections for the OVAC Hall of Fame's Class of 2014:
Bill Brubaker (Mechanicsburg, Pa. High School, Class of 1974). Not only has Brubaker enjoyed an ultra-successful 34-year stint as head swimming coach at The Linsly School, he's been a driving force behind the continued growth of the sport throughout the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.
He has spent his entire high school coaching career at Linsly and has continued the school's amazing OVAC dominance in the pool. Brubaker's list of conference titles includes: combined titles (1981, '82, '83 and '84); boys titles (1985, '86, '87, '88, '89, '90, '91, '92, '99, 2003, '04, '5, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13); and girls titles (1990, '91, '93, '94, 2009, '11, '12, 13).
He has coached four All-American swimmers - Bert Hazlett, Jenny Loew, Theron Pappas and Kevin Rosepappa - and has coached a total of 31 Academic All-Americans.
Brubaker serves as the meet director of the OVAC Swimming Championships and the event was renamed the Bill Brubaker Swimming Championships in 2013.
For "Bru", swimming is a 365-day a year sport, everything from regular season high school meets to summer meets to AAU competitions. He is not only well-know locally, but is highly-respected on the state and national level.
As an athlete, Brubaker was a four-year letterman in swimming at Mechanicsburg High and a four-year letterman at West Virginia University. He served as team captain and won the John Law Award as the outstanding senior swimmer.
After obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Teaching from West Virginia University, he spent a year as an assistant coach with the Mountaineers' swim team and served one year as meet director of the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming Championships.
A teacher at Linsly since 1980, he currently serves as chair of the Social Studies Department.
James F. Companion, Jr. (The Linsly School, Class of 1990). He established Scholastic Sports Marketing, LLC along with Bill Ihlenfeld in 2004 (he has been the sole owner since 2011) to help high school leagues raise money to enhance the overall experience for high school student-athletes by developing revenue streams while fostering awareness of the athletic events, conferences and institutions.
Scholastic Sports Marketing, LLC began its association with the OVAC in the 2005-06 school year, overseeing marketing and promotions for the conference. Companion has secured local, regional and national sponsorships (among them the likes of McDonald's, Huntington Bank and Subway Restaurants) and not only acquires the sponsors, but makes sure that the bills are paid.
Thanks to SSM, more than $750,000 has been generated to help make the Conference run, including more than $218,000 return to the schools through the basketball playoffs over the past seven year and more than $42,000 to provide certified trainers at every Conference-run event.
SSM has also served as the marketing arm for the West Virginia "Super Six" State Football Championships since 2008 and, along with WTOV-TV9, directs the "OVAC Kickoff Night" each year.
Prior to forming Scholastic Sports Marketing, LLC, Companion performed marketing and promotion duties at both Davidson College and the University of South Carolina; served as an associate commissioner of the Big South Conference; and served on national Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) Board.
Companion, who currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Denison University in 1994 where he was a three-year letterman in baseball and an all-North Coast Athletic Conference honoree. He earned his Master's Degree in Sports Administration and Facility Management from Ohio University in 1995
Companion spent two seasons with the minor league Class AAA Columbus Clippers and a year as bullpen catcher for the Charlotte Knights.
At Linsly, he was a three-year letterman in both baseball and football, gaining all-OVAC honors in baseball. He was also a member of the Wheeling Post 1 State Championship team in 1988.