Over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, I watched a lot of football games, and had a lot of fun and relaxation doing so.
On the other hand, in a special ESPN real life story in-between the games, I sat up in my chair to take notice, penned down some notes, was touched in my heart and tears came to my eyes.
The special segment was about the northern Ohio Mealor family's two sons, Elliott and Brock, and the inspirational words and actions of our former GSC football coach, Rich Rodriquez, when he was head coach at the University of Michigan in the mid and latter years of 2000. (Rich is now head coach at the University of Arizona, and doing quite well.)
It seems that Elliott, a high school star lineman, wanted to play football at Ohio State University, but received no invitation to join. At the same time, Coach Rod offered him a football scholarship at Michigan. After thinking over the family's disdain for the Wolverine State and love of OSU, Elliott and family traveled to Ann Arbor to look over the Univ. of Michigan. What they saw and how Coach Rod welcomed them convinced Elliott to choose to play at UM.
What happened after that changed his life dramatically!
On Christmas Eve as the family was returning from a midnight Mass, they were hit broadside by a drunken driver, killing his mother, teen sweetheart, and badly injuring both him and his brother, Brock. His father also survived.
After several surgeries, the doctors said that Brock would never walk again. And, Elliott's recovery would be difficult, at best.
Upon hearing of the tragedy, Coach Rod got Elliott on the phone, and said, "You're going to go to school at Michigan on a scholarship whether you play football or not." (His comments brought tears to my eyes, but that's the nice gentleman that this coach is.) After a year's recovery, though, Elliott was able to take the field for the Wolverines.
Simultaneously, Brock, who was paralyzed from the waist down, was told to go to one of three neurological rehab clinics to see if he could be cured of his paralyses of the legs. One of the best was at the Univ. of Michigan, where he went through the insurance limited physical therapy, but without success. When it ended, Coach Rod, once again, entered the drama, saying: "Give my team's trainer a try!"
The trainer, who was very knowledgeable, first emphatically told him: "Brock, you can either sit in that wheelchair your whole life or you can get up and walk. You make the choice." His answer was that he wanted to walk.
The trainer and his staff then started working with him like they would on an injured football player. He was put through much harder drills than what he'd experienced from the previous physical therapy treatments.
Slowly but surely, he was making progress by standing and walking with two canes. To give him more reason to recover, Coach Rod asked him to lead the Wolverine team out of the Big Tunnel at Michigan Stadium for the first game of the next season. That gave Brock more incentive to strengthen his legs.
Moreover, six months later when he hobbled out on his canes along side his football playing brother, Elliott, from the Big Tunnel, the 100,000 Michigan fans stood up, clapped and cheered for several minutes, and, then, the whole team followed.
Elliott went on to play four years there and is trying out for the pros now, while Brock fell in love and got married, walking down the isle alone with the aid of his canes, as he'd wanted.
Romance also came into Elliott's life, as well, with his new wife understanding the closeness he'd had with his deceased high school girl friend.
I just hope that a lot of you readers saw this ESPN half-hour true story of tragedy and triumph, and the crucial and kindly role that our own Coach Rich Rodriguez played in it. It was a real inspiration to anyone whose battled with muscular pain or a paralysis.
Go Coach Rod and your Arizona Wildcats football team!
We editors, in Glenville, are still proud of you.
Talking about sports and their coaches and athletes, the West Virginia Humanities Council has teamed up with the Smithsonian Institution's Traveling Exhibit program to bring a super looking display, "Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America," to the Mountain State.
The picture on the postcard announcement peaked my curiosity: it was from the 1963 State Championship semi-finals during which Conley High School (Afro-American) of Mullens beat Barrackville High. Now, having lived in Mullens for three years in the late 1970s, I'd never heard of Conley H.S., so I suspect that this exhibit will be visited by me.
Also, I predict that sone of you readers will go to this exhibit between now and March 15 when it's being shown at the Parkersburg Art Center. After all, our hometown teams represent the community, instill pride and unite everyone, locally.
For example, our Gilmer County High School Boys and Girls basketball teams are both ranked in the top 10 in the state, thereby causing a lot of us to be more interested in our high school's sports. Also, Glenville State's Lady Pioneers are setting record after record this year under new Coach Charles Marshall, a native of my Louisville, KY area, where basketball reigns as king.
Also, the Smithsonian display will be at the Randolph County Community Arts Center in Elkins from June 29-August 9 and at the Morgantown History Museum from October 5-November 15. For more information, call 304-346-8500, or log-on: www.wvhumanities.org
Postscript, No. 1: Lambert's Winery
Don't forget that at 5 p.m. on next Thurs., Feb. 27, Lamberts Winery of Weston will be the "Business After 5 PM Social Hour" hosted at the Glenville Inn. A wine tasting will take place, too, making the social a more novel one. This is our Glenville Democrat/Pathfinder newspapers and GSC Public Relations Dept.'s first business get-together of the new year.
And, there ought to be a lot of "good cheer" at it, wouldn't you expect?
Postscript, No. 2: Newspapers' fan mail
I've come across several recent and older notes to us that I should have recognized before now. But, my stacks of mail and governmental reports often times hide certain personal letters that need special recognition.
Had a kind note from Carl L. Conrad, of Elyria, OH, who praised the articles of Vernon Kerns, Geraldine Marks and Dendra Miller. Also, Gary Bowden, of Clarksburg, who is our advertising liaison with Country Club Chrysler in that city, sent us a thank you note for our superior efforts in making up the advertisements.
Finally, Lois Meseroll, of Westminster, SC, thanked us for publicizing about her "walk down memory lane" when being back in Glenville for the Memorial Service of the late Stan Mazzagotte, the "Glenville Gem Man," who was a friend to all.
Moreover, we editors miss his monthly gem information columns.
To these folks, we thank you for your steadfast reading of our newspaper, and hope that if other subscribers have ideas for us to write, they'll let us know. We aim to please!
Postscript, No. 3: The cultural horizon???
As always, we like to give an overview of the local, state and region's cultural offerings, especially for those Gilmer County residents who enjoy the fine arts. Of course, the Glenville State College's Fine Arts Dept. and Theater Dept. regularly put on highly popular and colorful art gallery exhibits, and musical and theatrical performances. These fine arts shows, which are open to the general public, are either advertised in this newspaper or placed in our news stories, or both, so keep an eye out for them in future newspaper editions!
Another source of these cultural offerings is at the Clay Center in Charleston (just buy bottled water when in that city).
Having started on Feb. 15 was the opening of an exhibit on "Every Living Thing: A Closer Look at Nature," along with an art face-off between the WVU and Marshall student artists. (But, I'd wager that our GSC student artists, under the tutorship of the able Prof. Liza Brenner, are just as good.) Also, the Clay Center has a film fest currently showing. Finally, on Fri., Mar. 7, Crosby, Stills and Nash will perform their novel musical sounds. For more information, call the center at 1-304-561-3570, or just log-on to: www.theclaycenter.org
Also, of a musical note in Charleston, are the city's Chamber Music Society's programs. The opener for this year is the ATOS Trio (piano, violin, and cello) dramatizing: "A Spring Morning." (Their musical selections ought to warm your heart, if not your body.) It takes place at 7 p.m. this Sat., Feb. 22 at Christ Church United Methodist in the downtown. For more info, log-on to the society's website.
Finally, be good, kind folks, and try to perform one "Random Act of Kindness" this week. After all, each February is "Random Acts of Kindness Month." (I'm afraid that so far this month, more people have been extending their kindnesses to me than I've been able to keep up with. Thanks.)