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July 14, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Van Halanger gets another award at WVU

MORGANTOWN — Dave Van Halanger has learned that he will be inducted into the West Virginia University School of Physical Education Sports Hall of Fame.

It will be the latest of several honors for the widely known Mountaineer football offensive tackle of 1973-75. He served as a co-captain in his senior season and was All-East.

Van Halanger, a native of Turtle Creek, Pa., is currently director of player welfare at the University of Georgia. He had served 10 years as that school’s director of strength and conditioning.

During his 13 years at UGA, he has been part of a staff that has led Georgia to 118 victories, eight bowl wins, two SEC championships, five SEC Eastern Division titles, and seven Top 10 finishes in the final national polls.

The latter included No. 2 in 2007 and No. 3 in 2002.

Van Halanger, who turns 60-years-old on Oct. 15, received his bachelor’s degree from WVU in 1976. He then returned to Morgantown after playing most of a season with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

“I was so beat up after my three years at WVU that I did not play that much as a professional,” he admitted. “My whole body hurt.”

However, Van Halanger joined WVU head coach Frank Cignetti and spent a couple of years coaching the offensive tackles and tight ends. He enjoyed that opportunity very much.

“I think Frank had a great coaching staff,” he remembered. “Most of them went on and became really good head coaches at other places.”

Nick Saban, the highly paid head coach at Alabama, was one of those who became the greatest.

Van Halanger also is credited with organizing West Virginia’s first weight-training program. He served as head strength and conditioning coach for his alma mater until 1983, helping Don Nehlen.

Then he left that year to rejoin Bobby Bowden at Florida State, where he spent 18 years as strength and conditioning coach before moving to Georgia for the same role and then eventually assuming his present position in January 2011.

Van Halanger, who weighed 275-pounds as a player for Bowden at WVU, now has cut down to a trim 235-pounds thanks to his wife Michelle’s good cooking, he noted.

He has worked with football teams in a phenomenal 30 consecutive bowl games with those three different institutions.

“I honestly think that’s a national record,” Van Halanger declared.

He was awarded the title of Master Strength and Conditioning Coach in 2001. It is the highest honor presented by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. It is given for professionalism, knowledge, experience, expertise, and longevity in the field.

He was inducted into the Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame in June 2003. He also has been a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The Van Halangers have five children: Danielle, Michael, Matthew, Julie and Katelyn.

Matthew, following in his father’s footsteps, is a tackle on the football team at the U.S. Naval Academy.

After being inducted into the WVU School of Physical Education Hall of Fame on Nov. 1, Van Halanger must fly to Notre Dame and watch his son play for Navy against the Fighting Irish the next morning.

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