Sports Talk: May God bless

Evan French was at an Ohio North-South All-Star basketball practice in Columbus when he learned of the ATV accident and death of his Warren classmate Danielle Church last Saturday.

French, a West Liberty University recruit, was “tore up,” a coach said, and he decided to return to Washington County that very evening.

Blane Maddox, French’s head coach at Warren and a co-boss of the South squad, did not believe his protege would be returning for the contest.

But French did drive back to central Ohio, and competed in the Sunday game at Ohio Dominican. He scored six points and grabbed six boards in South’s 102-100 triumph.

Then, he left for southeastern Ohio a second time.

He needed to be home.

A funeral service was held for Danielle Church at Warren High School Wednesday afternoon.

She was 18-years-old with so many things to do and her whole future ahead of her. She was planning a senior trip with friends and classmates to Myrtle Beach, S.C., after graduating from Warren on May 23.

It was not to be.

Over the years, in this area, it was not to be for several other young people as well, as Warren is not alone and the only community to mourn a fallen student-athlete.

  • In the early 1990s, Ritchie County linebacker Chuck Schofield collapsed on the field during a football game against Wirt County in Elizabeth, W.Va. He was rushed to Camden-Clark Hospital in Parkersburg, where he died.

He was a 17-year-old senior.

Today, if you drive east on Interstate 50 to Clarksburg, W.Va., you go by Ellenboro and can see Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium on the left.

  • In late January, 1997, Brock Thiele, a member of the Marietta High soccer team, drowned after slipping from a lock wall.

He was a 15-year-old sophomore.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Brock Thiele Memorial Classic soccer tournament in Devola was formed.

  • Shortly after graduating from Parkersburg South in early June, 1999, Todd Daggett died during an accident while riding in the bed of a pick-up truck.

The Patriot wrestling and football standout was 18.

Today, the memory of Daggett lives on at his prep alma mater through an annual scholarship (Winans Services Scholarship Fund).

  • Ryan Jobes was an all-around athlete at Williamstown, competing in track, cross country, tennis, basketball and golf.

Just before Christmas, 2005, Jobes was driving home during his sophomore year at Richmond University when he was involved in a fatal accident on Interstate 64 in Beckley, W.Va.

He was 19.

Today, in his memory, the Ryan Jobes Spring Special is run at the Jack Jones Track and Field Complex in Williamstown.

  • In August of 2006, less than a year after Jobes’ death, the Williamstown community suffered another tragedy when tennis standout Andrew “Drew” Marchetti drowned in a mishap in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

He was 24.

  • On Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, Marietta College sophomore and Youngstown native Caitlin Yager was killed in a traffic accident in northern Ohio.

The MC cross country runner and track athlete was 19.

I personally did not know Danielle Church, but I knew of her when she competed on the Sally Maddox-coached Warren track and field team a year ago. Last May, she was an Ohio Division I district champion and a regional qualifier in the 800 when she won the event in a clocking of 2 minutes, 30.06 seconds at Don Drumm Stadium.

At the regional at Pickerington North, she covered the 800 distance in 2:32.13.

Church did not go out for the Warren track team this spring due to work obligations. She was employed at Texas Roadhouse.

When I next saw her name, it was on the television screen last Saturday night.

May God bless – all of them.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at