It’s the end of an era for Ripley High athletics.

And a very successful era it most certainly was.

In the midst of COVID-19, Tim Ross quietly stepped away from his position of Ripley boys head soccer coach.

It was a tough decision for Ross, who took over the program in 2008.

“I wrestled with it,” said Ross. “I just felt it was time. I’ve got seven grandkids and another one on the way.”

Plus, Ross wants to spend more time with his parents and his wife’s parents.

In addition to his love for teaching and coaching, Ross also is an avid farmer.

Ross started his days in the athletic arena of Jackson County at the middle school level coaching on the pitch before advancing to take over the varsity program.

He came to Jackson County as a teacher and coach after serving in those capacities in Wood County, where he grew up.

Ross is a 1981 graduate of Parkersburg High. He was a wrestler for the Big Reds' historic program while also competing in track and field. He earned his teaching degree from Fairmont State.

In the dog-eat-dog world of high school soccer’s postseason, Ross had teams on the cusp of State Tournament play. Unfortunately, it just never came to pass.

In West Virginia soccer, there are only two classes. And just four in each of those classes reach the promised land of State Tournament action.

Two years ago, Ross’ Vikings lost by one to Hurricane in a regional championship game that would have sent Ripley on to Beckley for a historic first-ever State Tournament trip.

The Vikings were knocked off, 3-2, by Hurricane, who was coached by former Ripley boys basketball and track and field coach Jim Dagostine.

“That was a heartbreaker two years ago,” said Ross. “Jim sent me a text after the game that said, ‘I think we played a (state) championship game (tonight).’”

Ross came to respect and admire the former Viking coach, who was at Ripley during the 1977-78 school year.

“He mentored me a lot,” said Ross.

Most years, Ross had rock-solid teams.

In his 12 seasons at the helm, only one of his squads suffered a sub-.500 record.

“We had a really good run of teams, but we just couldn’t get past PHS,” Ross said of dealing with his alma mater in sectional play.

Ross’ teams played the best of the best, not only within the confines of the highly-competitive Mountain State Athletic Conference but in non-league action.

The mindset of Ross was the better the competition, the better his own program would be and that definitely turned out to be the case.

Several individuals excelled while on Ross’ watch.

Ripley has 11 First Team All-Staters in the sport with 10 of those being guided by Ross.

The impressive list includes Sam Pierson, who was selected as the West Virginia Player of the Year in 2017.

Ross had the privilege of coaching his three sons while at Ripley in Noah, Ben and Eli. Noah and Ben are among the group of All-Staters. Eli’s senior season showed promise. But a serious early-season injury wiped out a big chunk of his 2019 campaign.

The Viking head coach picked up some nice honors himself while leading the Viking program. He was the NFHS Coaches Association West Virginia Coach of the Year and Mideast Section Coach of the Year in 2015.

Ross is proud that many Viking teams earned state rankings throughout the respective seasons in which he was in charge.

“It’s just nice to know the kids did achieve a lot, learn the game and apply their skills to be successful,” he said.

Besides soccer, Ross also coached Ripley High girls track and field and enjoyed success in that sport, as well.

“We had some really good athletes,” said Ross.

Ross, who will continue teaching technology education at Ripley Middle, got his classroom career started during the school year of 1984-85 at old Franklin Junior High, located on Parkersburg’s south end.

One of his early athletes was Tim Amos, who is the father of recent Parkersburg South grad Braxton Amos. The young Amos will go down as one of West Virginia’s top wrestlers of all-time. Braxton Amos, who is bound for the University of Wisconsin, never lost a match in high school.

Ross knows it’s going to be different when soccer season rolls around. Even now, he would be involved with offseason conditioning with his players.

But he can depart with his head held high. For Tim Ross helped Viking soccer emerge into a program never to be taken lightly.

He leaves a legacy.

Ripley athletics is losing an outstanding coach and an even better man.