THE INTER-MOUNTAIN - During a busy homecoming weekend on the campus of Davis & Elkins College, several members of the school’s Scarlet Hurricane football teams of the mid-50s gathered at C.J. Maggie’s Restaurant Saturday for a reunion banquet to reminisce about the past and fellowship once more in the present.
The first reunion took place in 2003, and the team members gathered again in 2013 and 2015 prior to this past weekend’s meal. Presentations of trophies were made Saturday to commemorate the accomplishments of the former student athletes who once roamed the gridiron for D&E, where friendships to last a lifetime were originally forged.
Former members of the squad known as the Davis & Elkins Scarlet Hurricane in attendance Saturday included Gerald Lawrence, Lee Levering — known affectionately as the “one-eyed” fullback, Jim Phillips, Alby Phillips, George Triplett and David Vandenberg.
Having grown up around the program when his father, the late Bob Phillips, was an assistant coach for D&E, Elkins High School assistant coach Rod Phillips was also on hand to revere the legacy of the local program.
The presentation of trophies began with a special gift from the team members as they presented Davis & Elkins College Athletic Director Jamie Joss with a commemorative golden football trophy. It will be placed on campus in the McDonnell Center to forever represent the Scarlet Hurricane and the valiant efforts of its players.
Other administration and staff members from the college who came out for the reunion included President Chris A. Wood and First Lady Lisa Wood, Director of Alumni Engagement and Support Wendy Morgan and Advancement Department member Cathy Nosel.
“While D&E has not fielded a football program since the late ’50s, football’s presence remains through this special group of men and their families,” Joss said. “The days are filled with amazing stories of experiences on and off the field, but what impresses me the most are the deep, lifelong friendships and the genuine love and care these men have for each other.
“They have great pride in their alma mater and are examples of what we strive to build in our student athletes through their D&E education and living lives of integrity,” Joss added. “We are extremely grateful for their presentation for our trophy case, and they have inspired us to make next year’s homecoming reunion another special memory for them and preserve the legacy of our gridiron Senators.”
Former player Jim Phillips served as master of ceremonies during the presentations and spoke highly of his alma matter and former teammates.
“Playing football at Davis & Elkins College gave us a good education, it gave us character, it gave us friends, it gave us brothers,” Phillips said. “Here we are 62 years later. A lot of us have kept close, and we are brothers. Unfortunately there are more of us that couldn’t come because of physical limitations, but they’re still walking the right side of the grass.
“From this group, we want to leave the school with something that we can be proud of, and something they can be proud of,” he said. “So at this point, I would like all the players to come up here and stand behind the trophy as we present it to the college. Let’s ask captain Gerald Lawrence and captain Lee Levering to do the honors and present this trophy to Athletic Director Jamie Joss. This is something from all of us to the college. Everyone who was here in 2015, your name is on it and the years you played in. The trophy even has the new Senator logo on it.
“I knew you guys wanted us as a group to be done proud,” Phillips added. “I think Jamie and the president will be proud to put this on display for us, and we thank you.”
Phillips went on to present individual players with their very own golden football trophies to take back to their homes and share with their families. Having been longtime friends with George Triplett and the Triplett family, Phillips also bestowed athletic achievement trophies to Triplett’s grandchildren, Robert Triplett, and siblings George, Sofia and Alexandra Triplett.
The evening was capped off with a nice meal and lively conversations filled with genuine laughter and even some sentimental tears of joy as the men and their families enjoyed one another’s company.