Gifts honor 'Sarge'
HUNTINGTON -- Dave Piepenbrink and Lisa Gates, siblings of former Marshall University baseball player Johnny Piepenbrink who passed away in April, are making sure that their brother's memory lives on in something that he was passionate about his whole life.
Johnny Piepenbrink's passions were Marshall and Huntington High baseball.
On Oct. 6, at the Marshall homecoming football game, the family held a special event called the "1st Annual Homecoming Tailgate" in honor of "Sarge" Piepenbrink. Friends and family were invited to attend or contribute to the memorial event. More than $7,000 was raised.
Dave Piepenbrink and Gates presented Thundering Herd coach Jeff Waggoner and Huntington High coaches Jeff Maynard and Mark Gibson each with checks of $3,500 over the weekend.
"Turning a tragic event into something positive -- especially something to help others -- really hit home for me when my brother died," Gates said. "Johnny loved Huntington and he loved baseball so that's what I focused on. Something to help young athletes, right here at home, combined with something that would honor him.
"Johnny and I played baseball together every summer from the time we were five years old clear through college," said Dave Piepenbrink, a former Marshall head coach. "I loved the idea for the homecoming tailgate and who it would help. It brought back memories of all the times we shared as brothers as well as athletes. We want to do this each October for many years to come."
Waggoner plans to use the donation to purchase hi-tech video equipment for improved player development.
The Huntington High coaches will use the funds to construct a locker room that will be named after Piepenbrink. He was a life-long Huntingtonian who played baseball at Huntington East before joining the Thundering Herd.