MORGANTOWN — By this time next year, there will be one more high school basketball program in Monongalia County. West Virginia Academy, the state’s first charter school, announced this week plans to field boys and girls high school basketball teams for the 2023-24 season.
Roy “Bogie” Boggess, the school’s athletic director, announced Tuesday that he will serve as boys’ basketball head coach with Leroy Ellison as an associate head coach. Bryce Fordyce has been hired as the girls’ basketball coach.
Boggess explained that W.Va. Academy, nicknamed the Trailblazers, will operate separately from the WVSSAC as an independent high school college prep program, exactly like The Linsly School in Wheeling.
“It’ll be just like Linsly,” Boggess said. “We’re even potentially looking to be a member of the OVAC. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll just be completely independent and that means we can schedule as many games as we want against as many states as we want.”
Like Linsly, the Trailblazers will have complete autonomy over their schedule with no restrictions for the time of year they can play, the number of games or the amount of associated travel.
“It’s going to be the ability to not be restricted,” Boggess said. “We have the ability to play a longer schedule, we can play tournaments, we can play year-round. Our (school) terms are kind of set up like a college schedule, where we have about a month break between December and January. We’re looking at potentially traveling to play in three high-level out-of-state tournaments during that time.”
In being independent, Boggess hopes to also avoid the resentment that sometimes surrounds private schools in high school athletics.
“If we were an SSAC school, any time we showed any success, we’d be accused of recruiting and breaking rules. As an independent we can actually recruit,” he said. “We would have to be a single-A school (in the WVSSAC) and if we showed any success, I’m sure people wouldn’t want to play us. I want to avoid that, I want to avoid any resentment.”
Linsly, for example, plays a schedule largely made of OVAC opponents every season, many of whom are in the WVSSAC, and participates in the OVAC tournament, but is barred from the WVSSAC postseason.
The Trailblazers played a 13-game middle school schedule this season with 11 student-athletes. Home games will be played at the Mylan Park rec center with a few potentially at Anderson Court.
Boggess’s background is in college athletics, where he most recently served as assistant director of operations and head women’s basketball coach at Davis and Elkins College. He said the main goal of playing at W.Va. academy would be for student-athletes to have increased exposure to colleges. To that end, Ellison and Fordyce also have experience in that area.
Ellison is the founder and director of Easy Street Family AAU, where he has coached some of the area’s top prep players, and Fordyce was previously the video coordinator and assistant coach for WVU women’s basketball.
“The ultimate goal is exposure,” Boggess said. “We’re a year-round travel with a home, essentially.”
West Virginia Academy opened this school year and does not yet have a full breadth of high school students. Next year, the school will have just ninth- and tenth-graders, however, Boggess said playing basketball is all but assured.
“We have seven kids we know will play,” he said. “I’d like to get 10 (players) and in those 10, we’d like to get some international kids also…It would take a lot to stop (next year’s basketball season).”
Having all underclassmen won’t be a hurdle for the Trailblazers as their independent status will allow them to schedule any sort of team they please. They can build a schedule with a mix of varsity and JV teams to match their skill level.
“We could play either varsity games or JV depending on the talent level,” Boggess explained.
“We’re not going to play Morgantown varsity right out of the gate for example.”
The Trailblazer also had a middle school cross country team this year, something else Boggess thinks will move up to the high school next year. In all, Boggess is expecting the Trailblazers to field boys and girls high school cross country, basketball and track teams with the potential for girls’ volleyball as well.
Adding larger sports, like football, are not on the horizon right now.
“I don’t foresee us having football for at least five or so years, if at all,” Boggess said.