Bill Turner
Well, here we are. 
The end of another year in The Star sports department, which only begs for a recap of the prime time moments of the past twelve months. 
2019 was highlighted with everything from campaigning to get The Chief and myself firmly cemented onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame to having The Chief ‘s fierce and unyielding profile chiseled into the side of Mount Chief, the soon-to-be former Mill Mountain.
We gained ground with our on-line production and circulation format, leading the way into the future of the new path of journalism. Our paper’s focus on positive stories about the community has received unparalleled positive reviews, including our talented commentary writers, news contributors and taking the high road on area sports features including a focus on everything from high school sports to PGA golf, and sports profiles on Roanoke-area standouts in the community who have made an impact, such as Dave Ross, Ned Baber, Ed Green and Jamie Harless, to name only a few.
Being one of the “Original Four” when The Star was conceived in 2007, it has been very gratifying to have been part of this publication since day-one. Hopefully, the sports department under my guidance has met your expectations. I remain unmoved on reporting only the good things about sports, especially in the high school ranks. We tell the results as they occur, and talk about touchdowns, homers and outstanding performances without getting into fumbles, strikeouts or embarrassing any young athlete who is giving his or her all. It’s all a part of The Chief’s vision of what a newspaper should represent. 
Thanks have to go out to the many places which have made this sports column unique, starting with Loudmouth apparel and my coordinator, Cassie Colgan, the official sportswear of the Wild Bill column, which has now had its association with my column since 2013. Obviously, it has been a huge success; I’m probably better recognized by my Loudmouth pants than my face itself, which is better suited for radio or fashion modeling. (Brief guffaw). Same goes for Jacob Gruse and the Cave Spring High School basketball program which has made me part of their staff for four years, and Macado’s Restaurant where you can grab the incomparable Wild Bill Burger that highlights their great menu.
I also want to thank all the readers who reach out with questions and come up to me in public to talk. Believe me when I tell you I’m honored that you stopped me to talk. The readers are the very core of our what we do.
So, without further ado, the sports department wants to wish you the best for a Happy New Year and prosperous 2020.
Now, let’s get back to business where we applaud a high school football team, fill you in on upcoming ice hockey at the Berglund Center, give you a heads up on a sports club meeting and honor our first group of All-State volleyball and football selections. Also, a visit to the mail bag where bowl game and romance take center stage.
Congratulations go out to the Lord Botetourt football team for finishing runner-up in the VHSL Class 3 title game played December 14 at Liberty University in Lynchburg. The Cavaliers finished 14-1, losing only in the final to a very talented Hopewell team and the four touchdown explosion by Blue Devil running back TreVeyon Henderson. Expect a large number of Botetourt players to be named to the VHSL All-State selections when the Class 3 selections are released. Likewise, kudos to Botetourt head coach Jamie Harless and his staff for turning around the football program in Daleville since Harless’ arrival in 2012.
The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs look to rebound from a slow start and hopefully gain some momentum heading into the new year. The Dawgs get an early start with a home game against the Fayetteville Marksmen on New Years Eve where the puck drops one hour early at 6:05. The Marksmen return to the Berglund Center on Friday, January 3, followed by a visit from Birmingham on Friday, January 10. Macon comes to Roanoke for back-to-back games January 18-19 that marks the midway point of the regular season, with another back-to-back pair against Pensacola slated for January 31-February 1.
The Roanoke Valley Sports Club kicks off its 2020 season with a visit from NCAA football official Jim Hyson for their Tuesday, January 14th meeting at the Salem Civic Center. An ACC official for 14 years, Hyson has also had assignments for many of college football’s most prestigious bowls, including the Sugar, Fiesta and last year’s national championship semifinal Rose Bowl where Georgia prevailed in double overtime. Hyson played for UVA from 19798-1982. Festivities begin with the 5:45 social, followed by dinner at 6:15 and the program at 7:00. Contact Maggie Drewry at 540-353-1103 for questions and visit the club’s website at www.roanokevalleysportsclub.com to make reservations.
Now, to our regular tradition of acknowledging All-State honors in the “Big-11.”
VHSL Class 3 Volleyball All-State  First Team:
Miette Veldman, Jordyn Kepler, Kenleigh Gunter (Lord Botetourt); Fannie Sine (Hidden Valley). Class 3 Player of the Year-Miette Veldman  Coach of the Year-Julie Conner (Lord Botetourt).
VHSL Class 3 Volleyball All-State Second Team:
Cam Davenport (Hidden Valley).
VHSL Class 4 Football All-State First Team Defense:
Bobby Pinello, linebacker and Jayden McDonald, d-back (Salem).
VHSL Class 4 Football All-State First Team Offense:
Sam Cosnotti, lineman (Salem).
VISAA Division II  All-State First Team Defense:
Jaedyn Young, Aden Britton, James Jackson, Zae Baines and Mehki Hines (North Cross)_.
VISAA Division II All-State First Team Offense:
Aden Britton, Solomon Crockett-Eans, Zae Baines, James Jackson, Isaac Harris and Gabe Zappia (North Cross).
VISAA Division II All-State Second Team Offense:
Graham Eliades and Ian Cann  (North Cross).
VISAA Division II All-State Second Team Defense:
Michael Mack, Carlton Ward, Amareon King and Solomon Crockett-Eans (North Cross).
Division II Player of the Year- Zae Baines; Offensive Player of the Year- Isaac Harris; Coach of the Year- Stephen Alexander (North Cross).
VISAA Division III All-State First Team Defense:
Kawuan Ray, Andrew Vaught and El-Amin Shareef (Roanoke Catholic).
VISAA Division III All-State First Team Offense:
Colin Hagy and Kawuan Ray (Roanoke Catholic).
Let’s finish with the mail bag where one gal is considering the Belk Bowl.
Dear Wild Bill: I’m considering taking my boyfriend to the Belk Bowl on New Year’s Eve? Is it expensive and worth it? Any tips? (Hilary, Roanoke County).
Well, Hilary, it depends on your perspectives on the words “expensive” or “worth it.” For starters, be prepared and don’t fall for salesmanship loyalty. This is a mid-level football game, not a prom dance. The game between Virginia Tech and Kentucky will be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. This stadium has 75,523 seats, which means this game will be played in front of approximately 35,000 empty seats. Fanny room will be plentiful.
The schools and the bowl are selling tickets for around $65 and up. However, on the weekend before the bowl, tickets on discount vendor SeatGeek were readily available for $19. VividSeats had $17 tickets a week earlier. All you need is to get through the gate.
Parking is a different animal. The Church St. Garage, 1/3 mile from the stadium, is charging $40 per car. This still leaves gas, driving and motels if you don’t want to race the Interstate three hours each way in a single day.
Alternate sports option: on Monday go to the Northside Invitational ($8 for 4 games), on New Year’s Eve go to the Rail Yard Dawgs game ($8). Head to a nice restaurant after the ice hockey game which starts an hour early at 6:05, then home in time to watch the ball drop in Times Square with your boyfriend, mistletoe and some adult beverages. By 1 AM, you’ll have forgotten everything about the Belk Bowl and won’t be fighting fog on I-81.
Yes, you do always learn something when you read this column. Romance advisor and travel agent all rolled into one.
See you next year.
Wild Bill Turner