An Ode To West Virginia Football

An Ode To West Virginia Football

Here's why I practically bleed gold and blue.

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I am 2,078.5 miles away; approximately 31 hours by car and seven hours and 15 minutes by plane to the place that stole my heart long before I can even remember. A place that helped shape me into the sports reporter that I am becoming today. A place that has brought so much joy (and sometimes pain) into my life.

Growing up, it was my dad that taught me the ropes of college football; something that has been in my family for years long before I was even born. Some of my favorite childhood memories was riding in my dad's old, red pickup truck to get a bag of ice and head to football practice where he then coached my quarterback of a brother. There is something about a football game that makes me feel so nostalgic and makes me miss being a kid.

Saturdays were for West Virginia football, then and even now while I'm 2,078.5 miles away from the team that I love. I was lucky enough to go to just about every home game; taking a three-hour car trip to Morgantown, West Virginia. My brother's tradition would be to stop and get a package of Twizzlers, buy a program as we walked into Milan Puskar Stadium and of course grab a frozen lemonade (even if it was extremely cold).

When bowl season would come and WVU had won enough games to make it, we would travel. I thought it was the most amazing thing, to see how many people loved the same thing that my family and I loved. I grew up in the years of Pat White, Noel Devine, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin...the list goes on.

While my brother chose to spend his college years as a Mountaineer, I decided to part ways and head to the opposite side of the states to Arizona State University. Not once have I regretted the decision I made to become a Sun Devil, but I will say, college football just isn't the same. And I know this is because of my strong passion for a team that sometimes doesn't meet my expectations. While pursuing a career as a sports journalist, I know my passion was fueled by West Virginia football.

Making my family and the people that I have met in WV proud is my main goal. Putting out content and covering sports is what I love to do and I don't think that will ever change. I love all sports, but college football comes naturally to me thanks to my family and WVU.

So thank you to a team that I love. A team that makes me happy. A team that makes me scream at my television. A team that makes me a better reporter. But most importantly, a team that has fueled a passion inside of me for as long as I can remember.

"God must be a Mountaineer too because the sun is gold and the sky is blue."

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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They Really Are The Same Old Jets

They do not know how to run a football team and have somehow turned a once-promising offseason into one of angst, anxiety, and disappointment.

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As a collective group us Jets fans do not expect much from the franchise, we are aware of their struggles and we take all of the negative shade other fans throw at us.

However, not even a month ago I wrote an article truly believing that these "New" New York Jets were going to turn it all around, that this new regime might have just figured it out, that our owners just might have fallen upon something. They released sick new jerseys, signed arguably the best two available free agents in linebacker CJ Mosley and running back Leveon Bell. The team also brought in offensive guru Adam Gase as their head coach and Greg Williams as defensive coordinator.

Everything seemed right in Jets land, I mean they were not even the laughing stock of New York, that title belonged to the Giants all off-season.

Until it didn't.

Around a month later from that first article I wrote, I am here righting another article feeling completely different about the state of the franchise. The amount of hope I had for this team going into the future has almost been completely ripped away from me and all I feel is the disheartening truth that the Jets will never be different. You might be wondering what I am talking about, and if you follow the NFL, I am sure you already know what I am talking about but for those who don't here it is...

The Jets fired their General Manager Mike Maccagnan. Okay someone was fired, no big deal. No, this is a big deal. A GM's job in the NFL is to build a team. Sign players, draft players, build a culture and evaluate players. The Jets ended last season by firing their head coach Todd Bowlers. Christopher Johnson the acting owner of the team decided to hang on to GM Macagnan feeling he has done a good enough job for one more chance at building a winner. Maccagnan and Johnson worked closely together to find the next head coach Adam Gase and entered the off-season with the second most cap space in football a young QB and the #3 pick in the draft. Like I said before all was good in Jets world. Then May 15th happened.

I mean the Jets firing Maccagnan is not what is so bothersome in this situation, it is the timing. I mean do they realize they could have just gotten rid of this guy back in January before the whole off-season and opened up what probably would have been the most attractive job in football... a lot of money a young QB and the 3rd pick. But no, that would have made too much sense for the Jets and that is why they did not do it. This move has been a bombshell, unnecessary drama surrounding this team because of incompetent owners. It is really unfortunate. There is a part of me that wants to believe the media is making this seem so much worse than it actually is because, let's be honest, that is what sports media does.

But with the Jets, it is always different.

The impossible, the crazy, the most bone-heading, mind-boggling things are 100% possible. As my favorite radio voice, Joe Benigno said, "the Jets are a disgrace... they are not even a second class team, they are like an 8th class team." He is right on the money there. Unfortunately, the team I hate that I love will never be a 1st class organization with continuing to make unbelievable move after unbelievable move. They are a place I'm sure people really have to be desperate to work at because the owners do not have a clue about the game of football. They do not know how to run a football team and have somehow turned a once-promising offseason into one of angst, anxiety, and disappointment.

When this article posts this story will probably be a week or so old, so who knows the Jets might have found their next GM, and it could be an executive everyone raves about, but at this very moment, I do not even know what to say anymore, other than this team will forever and always be the SAME OLD JETS...

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