By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Growing up in Greenbrier County, Derek Gwinn often attended Virginia Tech football games with his dad. He also took in a Marshall game when he could and watched the Thundering Herd on TV.
“I wouldn’t say I was a die-hard (Virginia Tech fan), but I cheered for them,” Gwinn said. “In this area, there is a lot of distance from actual (Division I) schools or pro teams. Marshall was a school that I always kind of followed, particularly when Randy (Moss) and all those guys were going through. It was about the same as it was for Virginia Tech.”
Which will make Sept. 21 a surreal date in Gwinn’s life. That’s the day that Marshall — his alma mater and former employer — will visit Virginia Tech — his new place of employment.
Gwinn took the position of assistant athletic director for compliance at Virginia Tech in March, a move that helps get him considerably closer to his family. He currently lives with his uncle in Pearisburg, Va., while he waits for his house in Barboursville to sell.
Blacksburg, Va., is 1 1/2 hours from his old stomping grounds, cutting in half the three-hour drive he had from Huntington while serving as the Marshall compliance director.
“These first few months have been a great experience, being back near my hometown, and being part of a program that has been so successful as Virginia Tech is and has been over the years,” Gwinn said. “And to be part of a (football) program that competes for national championships on a yearly basis. We had a young man (freshman Tomas Kruzliak) win a national championship in track and field in the hammer throw. Our baseball team had a lot of success and played in the NCAA tournament.”
Gwinn, who graduated from Greenbrier East High in 1999, earned a master’s degree in business administration from Marshall, during which time he served as a graduate assistant in the athletic department. He eventually took a job at Ohio University, where he stayed from August 2005 until April 2007 before returning to Huntington to take over as compliance director for Beckley native David Reed.
There he stayed for almost six years. Now, in less than three months, he will see the teams he pulled for as a kid play each other on the first day of fall. And his familiar polo shirt will turn from kelly green and white to maroon and burnt orange.
“It will really be tough, because not only have I spent the majority of my professional career at Marshall, but it’s also my alma mater,” Gwinn said. “I know Marshall is improved in a lot of areas. I’m excited to see how they compete.
“There will be mixed emotions, but it will be exciting to see some of the players and coaches when they come to visit.”
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