WV Miners Basketball Team Digs into Inaugural Season ; Kanawha Valleys New Professional Team Made Debut Last Month

By Thomas, Clint | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), April 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

WV Miners Basketball Team Digs into Inaugural Season ; Kanawha Valleys New Professional Team Made Debut Last Month


Thomas, Clint, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


cthomas@cnpapers.com 304-348-1232

They are Miners in the Mountain State who score buckets rather than carry them. They go airborne over hoops instead of tunneling into underground shafts. They mine for gold (as in first-place awards and championships) instead of coal.

If you haven't made the admittedly labored connection by now, these Miners are a new, local, professional basketball team made up of skilled players from throughout the Charleston and Huntington region.

A member of the International Basketball Association-Premier Basketball League, the WV Miners call St. Albans High School their home court. The 11-man roster includes current and former players from area colleges such as the University of Charleston, West Virginia State University and West Virginia Institute of Technology.

The WV Miners' players include: Will Collins of Charleston; James Eversley of Fredericksburg, Va.; Chris Early of Huntington, who played at Huntington High School with former NBA player O.J. Mayo; Eddie Hayden of Columbus, Ohio; Jabril Bailey of New Castle, Del.; Brandon Tunnell of Wilmington, Del.; Fred Harris of South Bend, Ind.; Jamal Caterina of New York; DeMarco Richardson of Canton, Ohio; Ibrahim Malone of Dayton, Ohio; and Vince Goldsberry of Wilmington, Del.

The WV Miners made their IBA-PBL debut last month, with Stephanie Casey, of South Charleston, at their helm; the Miners are the only PBL team owned solely by a woman.

Stephanie's involvement with basketball goes back more than 30 years, including as a player and later a coach for area girls teams, but she downplays her overall on-court acumen.

"I played in high school at Weirton Madonna and college at West Liberty, but I'm not Lebron James," she said. "After I graduated from college, I moved to Charleston to be with my husband. I've been a basketball wife for the 17-plus years I've been married. I did some coaching at Dunbar Middle School and coached fifth-grade teams at Sacred Heart, but most of my professional knowledge comes from my husband, who is amazing at basketball."

Her husband, Wayne, is the head coach of the Miners. His basketball lineage is extensive; he has accrued 25 years of basketball experience, including professional play in the NBA Veterans Camp, the Canadian Basketball Association and the European Basketball League. He is a member of the West Virginia State University Hall of Fame. His coaching credentials include stints at Fairmont State University and earlier in the IBL and PBL.

"How this all came about is, my husband has been playing and coaching forever," Stephanie explained. "Last year, he came to me and said, 'Hey, they're bringing a new league to Charleston and they want me to coach it.'"

Wayne coached the West Virginia Gunners' first game at WVU Tech in Montgomery last year. Stephanie estimated there may have been, charitably, 15 people watching in the stands.

"Then they went on the road and beat Rochester, which was the number one team in the PBL," Stephanie said.

Despite outgunning the league's Goliath, the Gunners' brief existence fizzled to a quick, dismal end last season.

"There was no structure, no funds, none of the guys got paid, and they had to quit. I was just a wife of a coach, but it seemed to me you can't run a team like that. When I talked to the administrators at the PBL, they told me if I could get an organization together, they'd think about letting us in it.

"In July, I started the West Virginia Miners Basketball Club LLC. About 40 teams applied for the PBL; they chose six and we were one of them," said Stephanie.

When the time came to select a general manager for the new team, Stephanie said she figured she was a prime candidate for the key position. "I work at a hotel. I can do the organizational pieces; I do that every day. I did it because my husband wanted to coach, and what was lacking was structure on the back end."

As well as providing the community with exciting basketball games, Stephanie hopes to expand the league with teams closer to the Mountain State. …

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