RED JACKET – The Tug Valley area lost one of its legendary coaches when Joe Clusky lost his bout with cancer over the weekend.
His stellar coaching career started back in 1962 and ended many years later. Clusky coached many a youth at Red Jacket Junior High, Magnolia (Matewan) High School, and after retirement, he returned to help his son Tony coach at Williamson High School.
Born June 1, 1934, at Majestic, Ky., Joe was the son of Dominick Clusky and Rosa Hurley Clusky, who was of Italian ancestry.
While coaching the Tigers at Matewan, Clusky coached his sons JoJo, David and Tony in basketball. At times he was also an assistant football coach and he also coached baseball for the Tigers.
Over the last few years, he enjoyed watching his grandsons play at various high schools in the area, including Phelps, Logan and Matewan.
Clusky guided two basketball teams to the West Virginia State Tournament. Back in 1972 he led the Tigers to the Class AA state championship game. Unfortunately, they lost to Mullens in the finals. That squad was led by Mike Collins and Bill Roberson. His son JoJo was the point guard for that team. He took another Tiger’s squad to Charleston back in 1981.
His late 1960s teams’ were some of the best, led by players like the Joplin brothers, David Hatfield and many others.
Clusky’s dedication to teaching began in 1960 at Red Jacket Junior High School (RJJH) in Red Jacket.
In 1962, Clusky began an illustrious coaching career, initiating the football program at Red Jacket and winning four consecutive Mingo County basketball championships (1964-1967).
Under Clusky’s leadership, the 1967 RJJH football team captured the county junior high school football championship.
In 1968, Joe accepted a teaching/coaching position at Matewan (Magnolia) High School, where he was a teacher, coach, and mentor until his retirement in 1989.
In recognition of his leadership and dedication, Joe Clusky received Coach of the Year honors numerous times.
He coached many players through his tenure and several all-state selections.
Clusky was also a standout athlete during his younger years. As a student at Matewan High School, Joe lettered in all three major sports and received a football scholarship to New Mexico State in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he was a stellar quarterback. While at Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston), from which he graduated, he was a member of the baseball team.
Joe was widely known as a beloved father, teacher, coach, and mentor. After serving in the 82nd Airborne division of the United States Army in Fort Bragg, N.C., he returned to Red Jacket, where he established his lifelong career as teacher and coach.