MORGANTOWN - Old-timers in the Clarksburg area will tell you that Bob Secret was a four-sport superstar at Washington Irving High School in the late 1950s.
At 6 feet, 200 pounds, he excelled in football, basketball, track and field, and baseball. But things did not work out well in college for Secret.
He was one of three outstanding athletes in West Virginia's Class AAA schools who were named All-America in both football and basketball as schoolboys. The others were Ron "Fritz" Williams of Weirton and Randy Moss of DuPont.
In 1960, Secret was runner-up to the legendary Jerry West for the West Virginia Amateur Athlete of the Year Award.
"That was certainly very nice," he recalled recently. "So was getting a trophy from the Morgantown Touchdown Club."
Secret still resides in Clarksburg, where he has been retired since 2007. He has had cancer for about four years, but he's thankful that it now is in recession.
Secret, who recently turned 70, and the former Sharon Tiano have been married 43 years. They have two grown daughters.
Dr. Ashlee Barkley is a medical doctor and Dr. Tara Seckman is a dentist. Both are West Virginia University graduates and practicing in the Clarksburg area.
"We are very, very proud of both daughters," Secret said. "They keep me going."
He went through a lot when he was active as a young athlete.
Secret went to Notre Dame as a football recruit. But he admittedly got into a little trouble there and left. Then he came to WVU, even scored a touchdown in the first half of the Gold-Blue Spring Game. But he didn't play any in the second half and did not receive a scholarship.
So he transferred to Salem College and finished his studies for a bachelor's degree in mathematics. Eventually he earned a master's degree from WVU.
He served as an assistant coach at Clarksburg's Victory High School for four or five years.
Before graduating from high school, Secret played in the football and basketball North-South all-star games and enjoyed both very much. He also had an opportunity to play baseball with the Little Pirates in Pittsburgh.
"I roomed with Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh's son and we got along very well," Secret remembers. He played shortstop and centerfield, and baseball was his favorite sport.
He was a halfback in football and a guard in basketball.
Secret also was a backfield coach in football at Salem College for a few years.
Then he wound up teaching there for 20 years before retiring.
"I've been through a lot of disappointments over the years," he said. "But I really don't have any regrets. I loved playing all my sports most of my life."
Fred Wyant, WVU's great Academic All-America quarterback from 1952-55, never saw Secret play. But the two have become good friends.
"I do know his history as a four-sport standout," Wyant said.
"It's obvious he never gave up, never quit in what he went through.
"He just kept moving ahead. Most people would have given up if they went through what Bob Secret did."
Wyant said he last saw Secret at an American Legion tournament in Morgantown a couple years ago.
They found a lot to talk about.
Secret, whose cousin Pete Secret lettered in 1966-67 as a WVU quarterback, is a nephew of the legendary Timbuck Shields.
Shields, a Clarksburg native, coached and later served as principal at Flemington High School. Paul Popovich was one of his prized basketball and baseball players.
After two years as a two-sport WVU standout, Popovich starred as an infielder in baseball's Major Leagues for several years.