From the Bench: Case Study Tying Academic and Athletic Success - the 2001 BHS Boys Hoops Champs

By Jeff Toquinto on January 28, 2018 from Sports Blog via

As I often do each week, I have a conversation with Dennis Hutson about how his Bridgeport girls’ basketball team is doing. Since we’ve known each other since 1983, our conversations generally deviate into many areas.
Recently, the coach and I talked about having a high IQ and how that combines with talent in sports to facilitate winning. It’s not necessarily breaking news that unless your talent cupboard is overflowing that it helps a team’s odds tremendously to find success if they have players that have a solid athletic skill set and an academic one.
Again, I’m not divulging any secrets here that Bridgeport High School has had more than its share of academic honors through the years. And you better believe academics have played a role in the dozens of state championships that the Indians have collected over the decades on the athletic front.
As we talked, Hutson flashed back to 2001 and the Bridgeport High School boys basketball team. He was an assistant to Coach Gene Randolph on that squad. In all fairness, I could probably have talked to any coach about any team winning a state title and had a similar thread, but it is the most recent discussion with Hutson I’ll utilize to drive the point home.
Hutson said he knew there was something unique academically about that 2001 state title team from what he saw very early on. And he saw it at game venues.
“I’d look up in the crowd during the jayvee games and the guys were actually doing homework in the stands during those games,” said Hutson. “They all had heavy class loads and most were taking advance classes. They already knew basketball wasn’t going to be their career so they wanted to max out their potential with the books.”
Hutson said practically every member of that team – if not all – have become successful at a very high level. For the sake of time and length of this blog, Hutson gave me a rundown on the starters and what he recalled as the two first players off the bench, but added “they were all bright.”
The point guard on the team was Chris Liebig. Liebig, a West Virginia University graduate, is a pediatric orthopedic doctor and at Akron University where he also works with the athletes at the school among a number of other duties.
Then there’s Tyler Dodd, the shooting guard. Dodd has a degree in civil engineering, spent a year as an adjunct professor at Fairmont State and owns a company called Sundog Corporation, which is a general contractor specializing in solar panels and roofing.
The three-man on the team was C.R. Rohrbough, who has a medical degree from WVU. He is currently a major in the United States Army working in family medicine at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and getting ready to move to Washington where he was selected for a fellowship in “Wilderness and Austere Medicine,” which focuses on prehospital treatment and management of critical injuries.
Then, the scoring forward on the time was Vince Veltri who, by the way, was virtually unstoppable in the low post in the three-game sweep that gave the Tribe their second state championship in boys’ basketball. Veltri followed in his father’s footsteps and today is a dentist in Clarksburg.
Bridgeport’s big man was Timmy Lindsey. He earned a degree in Exercise-Physiology from West Virginia University, where he was also a four-year member of the football team. Today, he owns C:FT – Complete Fitness Training, which is situated in Morgantown.
Hutson said the top two players off the bench didn’t fare too badly on the academic and career charts. First up is Chris Lindsey. Currently, Lindsey is a landman for JB Oil & Gas and is also a registered nurse at West Virginia University’s Ruby Memorial Hospital. Prior to that, he was a former captain and critical care nurse in the United States Air Force.
Then there’s Brandon Brumage, who is also out of the immediate area and doing big things in the medical field. Today, Brumage lives in Chicago where he’s a nurse anesthetist at Northwestern Memorial Hospitals.
“I think the entire team is doing well. I still remember those kids being able to adjust so well during games, particularly with all the defenses we would run. If we changed things offensively, they just adapted to it as well,” said Hutson. “There was never a game where they had a problem adjusting no matter how much information we threw at them.”
Hutson has been around the coaching block long enough to know that he had a special group. In fact, he’s coached in the boys and girls arena for 40 years. He said his most successful teams have had just as much academic prowess as they did on the athletic front.
“They go hand in hand. The smarter your kids, the easier they are to work with and the less you have to worry about what they’re doing when they’re away from the court,” Hutson said. “The thing is that kids that want to do well in the classroom are generally competitive in the classroom and that always has carried over to the basketball court.
“To this day, I use that team as an example of why it’s important to hit the books if you’re looking for success athletically,” Hutson continued. “More important is that the academic side of things are the first priority because I’ve yet to have anyone turn professional and even though we had several compete in college from that team, very few even play at the next level or more than a year if they do. Those books are important to just about everything.”
If you don’t believe Hutson, head down to Bridgeport High School. You’ll see a whole lot of state championship pictures hanging up for athletics. And if you look a little closer, you’ll see a whole lot of pictures of titles on the academic front as well.
Editor's Note: Coach Gene Randolph could not be reached for this article. Top photo, courtesy of Dennis Hutson, is of the 2001 team. Second photo shows Vince Veltri getting some media attention, while Timmy Lindsey is shown battling inside in the bottom photo. Last two pictures courtesy of Mrs. Alice Rowe and the Bridgeport High School journalism department.

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