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Leonard helped guide Loudoun Valley athletics to excellence

By Staff | Jun 1, 2018

Shepherd sent out teachers and educators to many surrounding school districts. Once being called “Shepherd State Teachers College,” the school graduated elementary, junior high and secondary school teachers and coaches who brought honor to their college mentors.

So respected was Shepherd’s school of education that only a few of its graduates had to find employment in fields other than teaching. They didn’t saturate the rosters of educators in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, or in Washington and Frederick County in Maryland, but they were in numbers greater than anyone could imagine from a college with graduating classes as small as Shepherd’s.

Spread out in Northern and Western Virginia’s public schools, Shepherd people had earned deserved reputations as caring, hardworking, knowledgeable and loyal people who were more than just employees.

Some were hired to be architects and builders of athletic programs at schools just rising from previously barren ground.

In 1962, Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia, hired a head football and a head baseball coach who had graduated from Shepherd in the spring of 1961.

“Bootsie” Leonard had come to Shepherdstown from Loudoun County High in Leesburg, Virginia, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He would play four seasons as linebacker and guard for the football Rams and three years as a catcher for the baseball Rams.

It was 39 years later, in April of 2001, that he announced his retirement from Loudoun Valley. In those many years in the western part of the now-sprawling county, Leonard would coach football from 1962 through 1971 and handle the baseball reins even longer, helping the school win a state championship in 1972.

After becoming athletic director in 1966, Leonard constantly pushed for more girl’s sports and improved athletic facilities. When football moved its games from fabled Firemen’s Field to a newly built stadium on school grounds, Leonard was at the rudder of the ship making the improvements. The facility became known as Leonard Stadium in 2001.

As a player, Leonard was a two-time All-WVIAC selection as a Ram football standout. He was a team captain as a senior, and a co-captain of the baseball team.

After graduating in 1961, he was the catcher that summer for the Charles Town American Legion adult team, where he hit about .365 and played alongside former professional players like Wimpy Zombro, Dick Forrest, Roy “Tubby” Stotler, Gilbert Miller and Tom Palamar. Also on the Legion team were college teammates Dick Knode, Ron Clatterbuck and Bill Isherwood.

He was selected as Shepherd’s “Outstanding Athlete for the 1960-61 school year.” Leonard is also a member of Shepherd’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Shepherd regularly graduated educators who did as well in the world outside the familiar campus as they had while in school.

“Bootsie” Leonard was one of those lifetime achievers, helping give Shepherd a blue-ribbon reputation as a school that gave the world successful teachers, coaches, administrators and even superintendents.