There are no professional teams in the Mountain State. No NFL, no MLB, no NBA not even the MLS resides here. And of the three major sports in the United States…West Virginia remains deprived of a championship ti
tle. Of course West Virginians have found fondness in teams outside of state borders, but their affinity for those teams lacks in comparison to their deep rooted love of the Mountaineers.
You might be saying, well every fan base loves their team and believe they deserve to come out victorious. But for the people here in West Virginia it’s rooted deeper than that.
I moved to this state 5 years ago, as an 18 year old entering her freshman year. At first, to me, it was a place where the flying WV logo was on everything from a remote control to the dining hall waffles. While at the time I didn’t quite understand it, I quickly came to learn that so much more than just the University is represented in that symbol. It’s a symbol of hope, strength, and pride but most importantly it’s a symbol of home.
We, I say we because if you’re a native or transplant to this state you find so much of your identity rooted in West Virginia Football, had gone 5-0 to start the 2012 season. And everywhere you went there was such a sense of hope that this team could give this state what it needed: a reason to believe again. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case…I saw as the University and West Virginians slowly sank back in to their go-to phrase “next year will be our year.”
Time has passed so much so that I’ve graduated. And I’ve seen this state go through so much agony, pain and suffering. In terms of wealth, it’s the third poorest state in the country, barely ahead of the poorest. But natural disasters don’t take wealth into consideration when they hit. And hit it did, this state was put into even more despair when a flood unlike any it’s ever seen before devastated over 1,000 homes and claimed 23 lives in its path.
I don’t live in Southern West Virginia, but I had the unlucky timing of visiting a friend who did right when this storm occurred. After the storm had calmed, people were out trying to find ways they could help. Throughout the recovery one thing was constant…the little symbol of hope was there. It was there on hats, t-shirts, cars, the flying WV was there, West Virginia was still there.
Again West Virginia Football is 5-0 to start the season and I still reside in this wonderful state a little over an hour northwest of Morgantown as local sports reporter. While I’m not within University limits again I see that hope from its devoted fan base, but this time it runs deeper. This time it’s symbolic for a state that, simply put, needs a reminder that good can happen. It desperately needs their football team to show the world, that while it may be down, West Virginia will never be out.
Of course this year sports critics are saying the Big12 isn’t strong because Oklahoma and TCU aren’t strong and they are even questioning 6-0 Baylor. But what they’re forgetting is that West Virginia is strong. It’s an uphill battle for the Mountaineers, they’ve never beat Oklahoma or Kansas State and both TCU and Baylor have presented problems for them in the past. But in a state where everything is earned and nothing is given freely, West Virginia wouldn’t want it any other way.
West Virginia needs this season to be great, not because of trophies or titles. But because West Virginia needs to remind the world how great it is.