(The following information was presented at the Calhoun Historical Society’s
Morgan Tamblyn “Hick” Hamrick was born on Nov. 22, 1888, on
Woodzell Point Mountain, near Webster Springs. He received his early education
in Webster County, but Webster Springs lacked a high school at the time, so he
attended West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Academy in Buckhannon.
He received his diploma from Wesleyan Academy in 1914 and
finished Wesleyan Normal School in 1916. He enlisted in the army and served for
two and a half years during World War I. Upon his discharge, he earned an A.B.
degree from Wesleyan in 1921 and a masters degree from WVU in 1929.
Hamrick’s athletic education was no less distinguished.
Throughout his career, he attended coaching schools directed by many notable
state coaches, including Dr. Clarence Spears of WVU and “Crafty Cam” Henderson
of Marshall and Davis and Elkins fame.
An ardent disciple of Knute Rockne, Hamrick employed the
Notre Dame offense for most of his career to great success. He also enjoyed
coaching and talking about the game, and
The Parkersburg News commented that he was well renowned for his “quick wit
and humorous football stories.”
His first teaching position was at Ravenswood High School
shortly after returning from military duty. After serving as teacher and coach
for a year, Hamrick transferred to West Union High School and coached football
there in 1921 and 1922.
In 1923, he accepted a coaching position at Cabin Creek
District High School, East Bank, where he spent 10 years, and earned a
reputation as one of the best coaches in the state. His Pioneer basketball teams
won the Kanawha County championship four years in a row, and his baseball team
never lost the county championship.
His 10-year record in football was 75-13-4, and the
Pioneers averaged 25 points per game while holding their opponents to three.
Hamrick’s teams were famous for their passing attack, and claimed the odd
distinction of never having lost on a dry field. Aside from Charleston High,
East Bank was considered the most powerful team in the Kanawha Valley.
Following his decision to move to Calhoun County, Hamrick
was presented with a large engraved silver football by the Cabin Creek Alumni
Association in appreciation of his achievements.
The Calhoun football teams in the 1920s and 1930s were
never ranked very highly in state circles. The Red Raiders (as they were known)
rarely traveled past the neighboring counties to play football, and thus were
virtually unknown past the Little Kanawha Valley.
The 1932 season ended in the controversial firing of Coach
Miles Kochenderfer, who had played only underclassmen during the last game of
the season against Pennsboro, a move that infuriated Calhoun supporters despite
a victory over the Cardinals.
Why Hamrick decided to leave East Bank to come to
Grantsville is unknown, but his impact on the small school cannot be
underestimated. His success at East Bank spoke for itself, especially his 7-1
record against Spencer. Calhoun had managed only three ties and six losses
against their neighboring rival.
Hamrick’s impact on Calhoun football was immediate. During
fall practice, he replaced the old, worn-out khaki jerseys with new red ones,
the first colored uniforms in the Little Mountaineer Conference. He also tagged
the team with the nickname Red Devils, though
The Parkersburg News would continue
to refer to Calhoun as the Red Raiders until World War II.
The team managed a 3-3-2 record in 1933, but Calhoun
notched its first win against Spencer, a 27-6 thrashing on the local field (the
27 points scored were more than Calhoun had scored against Spencer in 10 years).
Keeping a promise he made during the fall, Hamrick purchased every member of the
team a new red silk jersey for beating Spencer. After only one year at the helm,
Hamrick was praised by local fans and the county papers for turning the football
The Spencer victory seemed to be all the Calhoun boys
needed to get going. In 1934, Calhoun posted a 7-1 record (the best in school
history at the time), and topped that the following year with an 11-1 record
(still the school record for wins in a season).
Though the Red Devils never won the Little Mountaineer
Conference, they were consistently in the hunt for the league championship, and
by the late 1930s were being touted by
The Parkersburg News as one of the best small schools in the state.
Not content to let Calhoun remain the best kept secret in
Central West Virginia, Hamrick used connections from his East Bank days to
expand Calhoun’s schedule. He arranged games with Parkersburg, Point Pleasant,
Winfield, Saint Albans and Webster Springs (near his birthplace), all larger
schools that would provide more competition and exposure for his team.
The plan worked brilliantly, as Calhoun football in general
and players in particular began to receive more press. Four members of the 1937
squad earned honorable mention on the All-State squad, more than ever before.
The following year, Orman Ewing was named first team back
on the Huntington Herald-Dispatch’s
All-State team, a direct result of his showing in the Parkersburg game in 1938.
Calhoun was more than a match for most of the larger opponents, though the two
games against Parkersburg stand as the most lopsided losses in Calhoun history
(not surprising considering that enrollment at PHS was over six times that of
Apparently, Hamrick used his Kanawha County connections in
another way, to recruit players from the Kanawha Valley to play for the Red
Devils. Orman and Raymond Ewing, two of the finest backs Calhoun had seen to
that point, were recruited from Clendenin. Juarette “Bat” Poling, All-Conference
tackle, also hailed from Kanawha County.
Hamrick remained head coach through the 1945 season. Twice
he ceded control of the team to his assistant coach, in 1942 to Lloyd Vaughn and
in 1945 to Wayne Underwood, who would inherit the job.
Though his work with the football team gained the school
greater notoriety, Hamrick also did an excellent job with the basketball team.
Cage games at this time were played in the basement of the high school, in a
cramped gymnasium referred to as the “Crackerbox.”
Dressing rooms were located beneath the wooden bleachers,
and the playing area was irregular. The floor was not regulation size, and the
ceiling was sloped at an odd angle due to the corresponding slope in the
This provided something of an advantage to the Calhoun boys
when shooting near the low ceiling, but practicing in the cramped conditions
handicapped them when they played in standard gymnasiums.
Despite these hindrances, Hamrick immediately worked his
magic on the basketball team. His initial team of 1933-34 finished the season
with an 11-7 record. Those 11 wins were more than Calhoun had managed to win
cumulatively since beginning the sport in 1926-27.
The following year, Calhoun notched its first victory in a
sectional game, a 35-13 victory over Spencer. 1938 marked the biggest leap in
the basketball program, as Calhoun defeated Sand Fork, Walton and Glenville to
capture their first sectional title. Advancing to the regional in Clarksburg for
the first time, Calhoun beat Victory 34-31 before bowing to Washington-Irving.
It was the last time that Calhoun advanced to the regional tournament until
1994. The 1938 team still holds the record for most postseason wins in one year
Though he had overcome many obstacles to make the
basketball team competitive, one he could not overcome was the fire that
destroyed the school in February of 1942. Without a gym, Calhoun had to cancel
the remainder of its home games, and, after a sectional loss to Harrisville,
discontinued the program entirely.
In the spring of 1945, Hamrick revived the program and
played three away games against the JV teams of Normantown, Spencer, and
Glenville. The following year, he turned complete control of the basketball team
over to his new assistant, Wayne Underwood.
Football and basketball seem to be the only sports Hamrick
coached while at Calhoun. Baseball, which had always been spotty, seems to have
been cancelled prior to Hamrick’s arrival in Grantsville, as the 1948 baseball
team claimed to be the first in 15 years to represent the school.
Hamrick introduced a variety of other sports to the
students during physical education class, including boxing in the mid-1930s.
Following the firing of principal Don McGlothlin in 1941
(another controversial personnel move that was reminiscent of the situation
that led to Hamrick coming to Calhoun in the first place).
Hamrick was named principal. Sensing that coaching
athletics and overseeing the high school would be very taxing, Hamrick named
Stan D’Orazio head basketball coach midway through the 1941-42 season.
D’Orazio’s tenure was halted by the fire which destroyed the high school in
With many records missing and classes scattered among
various buildings in town, Hamrick’s job was even harder, and he handed control
of the football team to assistant Lloyd Vaughn in 1942.
Resuming his coaching duties in 1943, Hamrick guided the
team for two more years before handing the reigns over to Wayne Underwood in
1945. In 1946, Hamrick resigned his position as principal and accepted a
position with the Kanawha County Board of Education.
Hamrick was married to the former Edith May Smith in 1924,
while he was a coach at East Bank. He had met her while coaching at West Union.
They had a son, Frank, who was born in Grantsville and later graduated from
Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston.
Hamrick remained in the Kanawha County school system for
the rest of his professional career, though he occasionally returned to the
Little Kanawha Valley, including a speaking engagement at the 1958 LKC banquet.
He died in August 1966 in Charleston.
West Union unavailable
West Union unavailable
*indicates a year for
which a complete record is unavailable.
Thanks to the East
Bank Alumni Association for Hamrick’s East Bank record.