Former Ripley coach Jim Dagostine is honored by Hurricane High School
As Jim Dagostine reflected on his coaching stint at Ripley High School back in the school year of 1977-78, he admitted to knowing little, if anything at all, during his days with the blue and white about the sport of soccer.
Ripley High School was still several years away from fielding teams on the pitch.
Shift ahead some 40 years and there was Dagostine standing at midfield on plush green grass of Hurricane High School’s beautiful soccer facility — one that will forever be known as the Jim Dagostine Soccer Complex.
Dagostine, who coached both boys basketball along with track and field while at Ripley, was honored by the school prior to Hurricane’s season-opening showdown with Wheeling Park late last month.
Not only did Dagostine take the Hurricane High program to new heights during his tenure as the head coach, but he was instrumental in helping the school get its own place to call home ... one that is second to none.
“I was blindsided by this,” said Dagostine, now 74 and still working as an assistant with the boys soccer program at Hurricane, of the honor. “It was never ever about me. It’s always about those who play.
“To have some folks think that this was something they wanted to do, I’m overwhelmed and appreciative. In fact, I’m shocked.”
Dagostine said the only thing he knew about soccer early on was the name Pele, who is labeled as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
But once he was approached about getting involved in the sport, Dagostine was all in.
“I was always a football, baseball and basketball guy. In the mid-1990s a guy by the name of Mike Ellis, who was the head coach at Hurricane and then his son was the head coach at Hurricane, came to me and said, ‘If we start a middle school program would you coach?’”
Dagostine answered, “Sure.”
The rest is history.
“I’d never seen a soccer game. I knew nothing about it, nothing.”
The middle school program was launched at Hurricane and Dagostine enjoyed great success and helped get a facility built for those playing at that level.
To learn the ropes of the sport, Dagostine did hours and hours of film study while visiting various high school and college coaches across the region who had outstanding programs. And, of course, he added his own wrinkles that had been adapted throughout his coaching life.
After enjoying his time with the sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Hurricane Middle, Dagostine moved up to take over at the varsity level for Hurricane.
Prior to his arrival, Hurricane High had never been to the state tournament.
In 11 seasons, his teams made seven state tournament appearances with two Class AAA championships. Another team finished as the runner-up in Class AAA.
Dagostine engineered Hurricane soccer to over 180 wins.
He had five teams capture 20 or more victories in a season with three going undefeated.
Hurricane soccer also enjoyed a national ranking while under Dagostine’s guidance.
For anyone who knows him, the ascent of Hurricane soccer under his leadership isn’t surprising.
While at Ripley, Dagostine was known as a hard worker, stern disciplinarian and highly organized individual. His Viking basketball team finished 14-7 that season. In track and field, he had several athletes qualify for the state meet thanks in large part to his coaching.
“I loved my time in Ripley,” he said. “I was only there one year but it was very memorable and meaningful.”
While coaching at Hurricane, he's had several good battles on the pitch with Ripley teams.
When he left Ripley High, Dagostine stayed heavily involved in athletics.
For years, he coached football at Hurricane Middle School and had several quality teams. He was honored during that time as the State Coach of the Year (for all sports at the middle/junior high level) by the West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Association.
In addition to coaching, Dagostine became one of the state’s most recognizable basketball officials for several years. He not only did high school girls and boys games but worked several college contests a year at all levels.
The Jim Dagostine Soccer Complex is indeed a thing of beauty. Dagostine remembers when it was simply a place to prepare for games.
“When this facility was started, they cleared it off just so we would have a place to practice,” he said. “We played a couple of games at the high school (Redskins Stadium, where football is staged). We always had to wait. I called the (Putnam County) Board (of Education) to ask if they could be a fence around this place. This place was just dirt to what you see today.”
The complex is complete with bleachers on both sides, concession stand, press box, lockers and bathrooms.
The grass turf would make any groundskeeper and landscaper swell with pride.
Dagostine loves the game of soccer and is truly humbled and honored to have his name bestowed upon a complex that several years ago was simply a dream.
He lauded the efforts of countless parents, boosters and administrators for helping make it all become a reality.
What he’s most happy about with the complex is that it gives Hurricane’s boys and girls teams (and their opponents) a wonderful place to play the game they, too, love.
For when it comes to Jim Dagostine, helping to mold the lives of young people has always been, and always will be, his true mission in life.