Friday, March 26, 2010

West Virginia Community

In a night during which number one seeded Syracuse fell to the Butler Bulldogs, the mighty Mountaineers of West Virginia University persevered and prevailed over the Washington Huskies and is now the last remaining Big East Conference team in the NCAA tournament as they move toward the elite eight.
Across the mountain state (and across the entire Mountaineer Nation), family and friends gathered around televisions to watch the Mountaineers play one more game on the road to a national championship. I sat with about a dozen others in the home of my first college roommate, Jimmy Shreeves, and really enjoyed the night and the victory.
For people outside this state, it’s hard to understand what it means to be advancing in the tournament like this. West Virginia doesn’t have a professional sports team, and for many people in our state, we rally behind the Mountaineers with the tenacity and passion of fans of pro teams.
Our state is victim to a number of stereotypes, & maybe sometimes it feels like we get a lot of negative press and sand kicked in our face. But when something good happens in this state, we all share in a sense of pride. In a manner of speaking, we can stick out our chests and say, “That’s our team!” People here care about the team like they care about their own family. There’s a special sense of community we have that permeates this state. Together, we celebrate the fact that we are Mountaineers. Together we celebrate the successes and the positives that emerge from the Mountain State.
It may be hard to understand for people outside this state, but there is a sense of solidarity here that is hard to imagine. People who routinely could give a rip about basketball are celebrating the success of our team--not because of a newfound love of basketball, but because of a deep sense of pride in our wonderful home in the hills of Appalachia.
And for our growing mass of mountaineer fans abroad. Come visit this state. Visit Morgantown. Come see why we believe this place is special. And keep rooting on the Mountaineers!!!

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