ELKINS - Sports at Davis & Elkins College have played a vital role in the community for more than 100 years, and the school hopes the partnership will continue to flourish, officials said Monday.
Kevin Wilson, D&E's executive vice president, served as the guest speaker at the Randolph County Community Arts Center on Monday for the "Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America" exhibit. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution's traveling outreach and will remain on display until Saturday.
"Elkins is a very special place and the school is also very special," Wilson said. "The school is very instrumental to the community. Sure, we didn't have Jerry West or Major Harris, but there is a lot of great things that happened at D&E. This school is a gem. It has a really storied past and has done very well."
Kevin Wilson, Davis & Elkins College’s executive vice president, spoke about the role the school’s sports teams play in the community Monday evening at the Randolph County Creative Arts Center. Wilson served as the guest speaker for the ‘Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America’ exhibit. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling outreach and will remain on display until Saturday. (The Inter Mountain photo by Ben Simmons)
Wilson, who has been with D&E for six years, said this year the college saw its largest enrollment since 1948. He said the success can be attributed to "good team building techniques."
"We're going through some really nice growth," Wilson said. "We have renovated and refurbished all the athletic facilities that we have - from Martin Fieldhouse, to the tennis courts, to the pool, to the soccer field, to the baseball field and a brand new softball field."
Wilson said the school has seen "tremendous growth" over the past five years. He explained that in 2008, the school received 572 enrollment applications.
As of Monday, he said the school has received 1,985 applications for the upcoming semester. Wilson noted the college anticipates more than 2,000 applications before school begins.
"The college has grown 68 percent in the past five years," Wilson said. "Sports are a big part of that, whether you're coming to play or coming to watch. We want everyone to come visit the campus."
According to Wilson, D&E and the community have a "good working relationship." He said Elkins High School uses the tennis courts and pool for their competitions, and residents often use the facilities for recreational purposes.
"The community is very supportive," Wilson said. "The school a big deal in the community and to students who come in and use the facilities to hone their skills. D&E fits in, certainly, in this community. Elkins High school has a tennis team with no courts and a swimming team with no pool, so I'd say we fit in pretty well. We like the town and the town likes us."
Before joining the administration of D&E, Wilson spent 19 years as a Division I, II and III coach, as well as six years as an assistant coach in the NBA.
"Hometown Teams" interweaves images and text with almost 70 artifacts, video, audio and other interactive elements that present perspectives on sports in popular culture, as well as local sports traditions. It offers information about mascots, marching bands, cheerleaders, game day traditions, tailgating, player/coach relationships, sports equipment, stadiums, rivalries, and athletes who broke racial, gender or physical barriers in sports. The growth of alternative and extreme sports also is explored.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. Hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information about "Hometown Teams" is available by calling the RCCAC at 304-637-2355.