Pair of Huntington High basketball players record another assist for former head coach

Bob Straight, who coached the Huntington High School boys’ basketball team to the state title game in 1964, gazes at a picture of the team in his home in February 2014. Straight died in November 2018 and a new endowed scholarship dedicated to his memory will be announced at the Huntington North High School boys’ basketball game this Saturday, Dec. 14.
Bob Straight, who coached the Huntington High School boys’ basketball team to the state title game in 1964, gazes at a picture of the team in his home in February 2014. Straight died in November 2018 and a new endowed scholarship dedicated to his memory will be announced at the Huntington North High School boys’ basketball game this Saturday, Dec. 14. Photo by Steve Clark.

Jim Seneff and Doug Ware both recorded assists during their time playing basketball for Coach Bob Straight at Huntington High School in the 1960s.

Now, over 50 years later, Seneff and Ware have each logged an assist for their former head coach one more time.

Seneff and Ware have contributed approximately $350,000 to the Robert M. “Bob” Straight Memorial Endowed Scholarship. It’s a new scholarship, succeeding the Bob Straight Scholarship, which was awarded to student-athletes at Huntington North High School from 1994 to 2019. Mike Weaver, Seneff and Ware’s teammate on the Huntington High School basketball team that played for the state title in 1964, started the scholarship and funded it over the course of its existence. The scholarship’s awardees received $2,500 annually for four years.

In November 2018, Straight died at the age of 92. In the aftermath of his death, Weaver decided it was time for the scholarship to become a memorial scholarship and adopt a funding model that would enable it to be funded in perpetuity. Bill Walker, a retired Huntington North teacher, and Joe Santa, a former Huntington North athletic director, took on the responsibility of making that happen this past April. They renamed the scholarship, set up an endowment for it at the Huntington County Community Foundation and started working on funding it. To that end, they mailed over 100 letters to people they thought might be interested in making a financial contribution.

Letters reached Seneff and Ware. And when they learned about the opportunity to contribute, they jumped at the chance.

“Doug and I just thought it was a great time for us to step up and put it together at this point to make it go on forever and that’s kind of why we did it,” says Seneff.

Behind Seneff and Ware’s contributions, Walker and Santa not only met their funding goal for the endowment, but surpassed it. Many other people have also contributed to the endowment, says Walker, propelling it to a total of approximately $370,000.

Walker, Santa and other members of the Straight Scholarship Committee plan on officially announcing the scholarship at a ceremony this Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Huntington North boys’ varsity basketball game. The Vikings host Manchester, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. The ceremony will feature past recipients of the Bob Straight Scholarship.

Going forward, Walker and Santa say the Straight Scholarship will continue to be awarded annually and provide recipients with $2,500 each year. As a result of exceeding their goal for the scholarship, they say that figure could increase in the years to come.

As the head basketball coach at Huntington High School, Straight guided his teams to eight sectional titles, four regional crowns and a semi-state championship, along with the 1964 appearance in the state championship game. Aside from coaching, he served as a teacher, athletic director and assistant principal at the school. In 1967, he became Huntington North’s first principal, serving in that role until his retirement in 1986.

To Ware, Seneff and others, Straight wasn’t just a coach, but a lifelong mentor.

“I loved the man,” says Ware. “My wife and I grew to love him and his wife over the years. He was like a father to me, because I lost my father in 1981.”

Seneff echoes that sentiment.
“He was one of the most loving and caring men I’ve ever been associated with,” he says. “He watched over all of us from the time we played basketball until he died. We were all in contact with him. I will be forever indebted to him for that.

“He stuck with us for life and was always there to talk about anything or to help in any way. So, it went way beyond those years of playing basketball with him.”

Ultimately, both men are proud to have assisted in sustaining the Straight Scholarship, which they believe will ensure that their coach is never forgotten.

“I want the community to remember who Bob Straight was,” says Ware. “When he died, the world was a little poorer after that.”

Seneff looks forward to seeing Straight’s legacy carried on by the scholarship’s recipients.

“I think having a Bob Straight Scholarship means something because of the legacy he left behind,” he says. “I think these kids probably realize they’re participating in a legacy of greatness. The name is a big deal because, in one sense, he’s not here, but his voice is still here. I think the Bob Straight Scholarship will allow his voice to continue to be heard – and it’s worth hearing.

“He was an extraordinary person at an extraordinary time in all of our lives. I’m sure these kids will be very proud of (their scholarships) and they will realize in part his legacy and also carry on his legacy.”

To make a donation to the Straight Scholarship endowment, contact the Huntington County Community Foundation at 356-8878 or info@huntingtonccf.org.