There’s a moment you hopefully experience as a sports fan after a devastating loss. It’s the grief-filled gratitude. The “Damn. This sucks but what a team. What a game (hopefully). What a season (hopefully).”
I had that Friday night. Black Friday the Mountaineers fell to the Oklahoma Sooners in a game with over 1,000 yards of total offense and over 100 points. Fourteen points taken away from the Old Gold and Blue would have changed the outcome (and my time at Milan Puskar) drastically.
You can’t control the game, can’t control the refs, can’t control the past. What you can control is the emotional reaction after. Instead of being down, devastated, and hysterical (talking from plenty of personal experience), I found myself calm and somewhat, albeit just a slight amount, okay with not hearing Country Roads one last time in Milan Puskar for 2018.
Last year, a friend recommended a book to me (thanks, pal). The Last Season by Stuart Stevens is about a man and his father traveling to Ole Miss football games for a season. Football fans, take the time to read this book. It will resonate so much with Mountaineer fans all over, as it has for me. In a way, the book changed how I have looked at watching West Virginia football, making me so much more grateful for each snap, minute and quarter of play I watch in Morgantown.
Football games, especially West Virginia games, bring such a sense of family on Saturdays in the fall and despite the loss I’m so thankful to grow up at these games, next to my grandfather, watching teams of young adults give their all to all 60,000 fans in attendance. These games and moments are driving pieces of some of my best memories and I know many others feel the same. Despite the outcome of the Oklahoma game, gratitude for the team that gave us their all should be the conversation we have instead of one of sadness and criticism.
Every fan and armchair expert across Mountaineer Nation is sure to have an opinion on the 2018 season; from the cancelled NC State game, that hour of game time in Ames, the last minute in Stillwater, to what happened, didn’t happen and didn’t get called Friday night in Morgantown. There are countless different opinions on how to look at this season and these games.
There’s one thing that matters most: this team gave a team, university, state and national fan base everything they had. This is a team worth being thankful for and a season worth being thankful for.
For this girl right now, that’s enough for me.
As I sit and reflect on this 2018 West Virginia football team, its seniors and this season, I am so thankful. Thankful for all the video game style plays between Grier and Sills, for all the times we’ve sang “Country Roads” this season, for Wesco showing us how local boys can succeed, for Coach Holgorsen wanting to “win the blank-ing game,” for that weekend in Austin that felt like a weekend in Morgantown and for every time this team defied the naysayers. This may not have been the ending to the regular season we all wanted, but it was a hell of a ride.
Thank you West Virginia Mountaineers, and the seniors leaving us, for giving all of Mountaineer Nation and a girl living in South Carolina truly a season to remember.