Alvena Allen-Elliot is perhaps the finest female athlete to ever don the maroon and white at Williamson High School.
Before that though, she wore the orange and black of the old Chattaroy Junior High School.
Alvena was raised in a modest little house just a few yards from the old brick and mortar Chattaroy school building and gymnasium.
“My childhood was fun – it was an innocent time,” Alvena recalls. “My family was so supportive of me and they were always there for me.
I had a blessed life.”
Like most that grew up in a rural community, Alvena Allen has warm memories of those days.
“Reflecting on my days of growing up in Chattaroy brings back a lot fond memories. In the summer we had season passes to the West End swimming pool. Erwin “Erky” (her older brother), Felicia (her younger sister) and I went swimming every day. My Dad (Thomas Allen) would drop us off on his way to work in the mines and our sister Beverly “Bee” would pick us up when she got off work,” she remembers.
“We would go home, take a bath and eat a great home cooked meal prepared by our mom (Audrey Allen). Mama was and excellent cook. Then we would head to the playground where we would spend the rest of the evening riding our bikes, roller skating and playing tennis and basketball. When the street lights came on, that would be our ‘cue’ to head home,” Alvena said with a laugh.
“Once we got home, as long as we stayed in the yard, we would catch lightning bugs. We would put them in a jar or Felicia and I would make a ring with them. The next day we would do it all over again. I felt very safe in those days,” she added.
“I remember Mr. Adolf would deliver our mail. He would open the door to our kitchen and lay it on the counter. During the day we didn’t lock our house or our car doors. Those truly were the good old days,” Allen recalled.
Title Nine was instituted in 1972, which entitled girls to participate in sports at public schools and at colleges.
In the early days of girls basketball, which at that time was played in the fall, Allen helped lead her Chattaroy Junior High team back in 1976 to the Mingo County championship.
“The Chattaroy Yellowjackets were the best in the county. The first year that girls could play basketball for the schools was when I was in the ninth grade,” she recalls. “Under the tutelage of Coach Curt Fletcher our team had an undefeated season (15-0), beating our opponents by an average margin of 20 points or more.”
It was there she formed a lasting bond with Pam Sword (Crum) and Lisa Watson (Altizer), two of her teammates. Those two went on to play with her at Williamson High School and they have remained lifelong friends to this day.
“Pam and Lisa are still my best friends. I still visit with them when I come home to visit my dad,” Allen said.
“I loved my teachers! I feel that I received a quality education and I developed some friendships that I have maintained to this day,” she added.
In the summer months, Allen played in the women’s softball league at the old park in West End.
“I also played softball in a woman’s league coached by Frank Smith. I started playing in the league when I was 12 or 13 years old. My Dad wasn’t crazy about me playing with grown women, but he knew how much I loved sports so he let me play. Our teams were very competitive and quite successful,” Allen remembers.
Once she got to Williamson High School, she became the first girl’s player to become a first team Class AAA All-State selection, the first in the school’s history.
Allen, a 1980 graduate, was multi-faceted at Williamson High School, not only was she a star athlete and honor roll student, but she was on the homecoming court for all three years. She also participated on the track team, was a varsity cheerleader and played intramural tennis.
The late Vivian Elkins was her coach in both basketball and cheerleading.
She is a member of the WHS Hall of Fame.
At the time she played at WHS, the school was Triple A and had to play schools like Logan, Huntington and places with larger enrollments.
“The Wolfettes (as the girls’ team was called then), made school history by going to the state tournament my junior year. I was named to the 1st team All-tournament team setting a tournament record by making 15 field goals on my way to scoring 35 points,” Allen recalls with modesty. “We made it back to the state tourney my senior year.”
“I also made the All-Area first team all three years for the Williamson Daily News. I scored over 1,300 points in my career,” Allen said. And this was before the 3-point shot was implemented.
“The great memories continued at Williamson. I remember going to flower parties. We would make flowers from tissue paper for the homecoming parade floats. I remember riding in the parades. I loved being a cheerleader. Cheering for the boys especially in those big rival games was awesome,” Allen recalls with fond memories.
Allen’s exploits helped her get a scholarship to the University of Charleston.
“Continuing my education was not an option for me. Education was definitely stressed in my family - not only by my parents, but also by my older siblings. My older brother Tony and my sister Deborah wore many hats for me. They were my siblings, my role models and they were like a second set of parents,” Allen stressed.
Her success continued at the University of Charleston (Charleston, W.Va.) where she was a Kodak All-American basketball player, played on the fast pitch softball team, was Homecoming Fall Festival Queen and WVIAC Athlete of the Year.
She scored over 1,000 points in her career for the Golden Eagles, helped her squad to two NAIA national tournament appearances and was on the NAIA All-District team.
Alvena Graduated with a BA degree in Education and later received her Master’s degree in Education to Ashland University.
She was inducted into the University of Charleston Hall of Fame in September of 2013.
Alvena is married to Michael Elliot and now lives in Ohio.
“I’m blessed to be married to my amazing husband Michael. We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in August,” Alvena said. “We actually met playing on a co-ed basketball team. His day job is an engineer, but you might catch him on ESPN. He is a college football official for the MAC (Mid-American Conference). I have a stepdaughter Eboney who graduated from the University of Cincinnati. She is an IT analyst at Miami of Ohio.”
“My son Isiah is a senior at Malone University. He has had a phenomenal basketball career. Upon graduation this May, Isiah has aspiration of playing professionally and returning to school to obtain his Master’s degree in Sports Management,” she said proudly. He was the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Player of the Year in basketball.
He suffered, but has fought back from a severe knee injury and is playing in his final season.
“He hopes to play professional basketball overseas,” she said of her son.
“I am an elementary Physical Education teacher for Canton City Schools. In May of 2015, I’ll be retiring with 30 years of service. I have coached basketball at Lehman Middle School and at McKinley High School. I have also been the cheerleading advisor at McKinley,” Alvena added.
Alvena Allen-Elliot has had a great career with a long list of her accomplishments.
However, she never forgets where she grew up and those great memories she had of chasing lightning bugs, playing on the playground at Chattaroy Junior High School and growing up in the Tug Valley area.
It laid a strong foundation for her future success and achievements.
Alvena Allen truly used her God-given talent to the best of her ability. And it all started in her little Appalachian hometown of Chattaroy.
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)