WVU teams still inspire the state

The Inter-Mountain is celebrating West Virginia University’s 150th anniversary with a special section included in today’s edition. Trying to describe how sports have and continue to impact a population is difficult to delve into. There are so many things to talk about, including how athletics have impacted WVU and the people of the Mountain State at large.

For those who have never attended the university or set foot into one of the campus’s many classrooms for a lecture session, Mountaineer sports provide a special connection to the institution. It has been described as a love affair between the fans and the blue-and-gold student athletes we cheer for year after year.

Whether attending in person, watching on television or tuning in on the radio dial, WVU sports touch our hearts and minds in so many ways. They bring us highs, lows and a very distinct sense of pride in our state.

As spectators with a home-team point of view we have continued to be fortunate while watching our major sports teams in Morgantown.

The state of West Virginia has taken its fair share of hard knocks regarding trying economical times, periods of mismanaged natural resource incomes and other limitations to growth that have come with the territory. But all that is momentarily erased when we see the Pride of West Virginia — WVU’s marching band — prepare Mountaineer Field for the Mountaineer gridiron gladiators to come storming out of the tunnel and through the smoke onto our home turf.

We identify with sights and sounds that are unique to our brand. We pass by Morgantown on I-79 North, waiting to crest the next hill and then be able to look to our right and see the Coliseum standing strong in the distance. We gaze at that concrete shell roofing, knowing that it covers a sacred arena where so much Mountaineer magic and history has taken place.

Sports mean so much to WVU as well. They are one of many opportunities created by the university that introduces athletes coming from all around the world to life in Appalachia, as the visitors bring and share their backgrounds with us, also. Young people who would have otherwise never visited Morgantown, or the state even, are brought here through athletics.

It should also be noted that the revenue streams created by ticket sales, apparel purchases and vending are pretty important, too. Several full- and part-time jobs for local residents are driven by the existence of athletic programs at WVU, which helps our economy in so many different ways.

We have so much to be proud of and thankful for when looking at everything WVU means to our state — our academic programs, our sports teams and the national and global representation they provide for West Virginia.

When you drive through a town or a city in the Mountain State, or just take a trip down a country road, you never have to travel far before seeing a symbol of pride in the Mountaineers staked in someone’s yard or painted on the side of a building. You may see an old man at the coffee shop donning one of his many ball caps that bear “our” team’s colors. WVU sports mean so much to so many.

Let’s go, Mountaineers!

•••

Two Philip Barbour High School students from classes of the nineties passed away recently. Craig Eddy, Class of 1993, and Joe McCartney, Class of 1996, each went on to the next level in recent days.

Both young men were outdoorsmen, and each made their mark on the lives of others during their time here on Earth. Their early departure from this life saddened so many who had the chance to know them over the years. God bless their families during this time.

Eddy was a Kasson Middle School product who displayed an intelligent point of view through the years. He was also an avid champion of man’s best friend, the dog. He was also artistic, and a true individual who saw things from the top down.

McCartney played football for the Colts. His love for the game is evident in the 1993 Equestrian yearbook, where McCartney dons a Raiders jersey for his freshman go-round in front of the camera as a member of the class in line at the library. He worked over in Ohio with a good track record over the years, mailing things back home along the way.

They will remain in the mix of Barbour County lives, each being missed for many reasons.

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