The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

July 20, 2013

A day of work and play for Mountaineers

WVU football players pitch in as part of community service effort

SUMMERSVILLE — Darwin Cook ran after reporters with a weed eater, while Russell Haughton-James got a lesson on driving a riding lawnmower. Doug Rigg wiped silver paint off the back of his neck, and Dustin Garrison admired his tape job in preparing to paint the basketball floor.

There was plenty of fun to go along with the work Friday at the Summersville Community Center as approximately 90 members of the West Virginia University football team made the 2 1/2-hour bus ride from Morgantown to Nicholas County to participate in the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative — the largest community service effort in U.S. history.

“Several months ago, (WVU head coach Dana) Holgorsen read about the Reaching the Summit Community Service initiative and asked us how he could help,” said Matt Sutton, a media representative for the Reaching the Summit project. “We worked with him and his staff over the last couple of months, and finally he just said, ‘I’ve got an entire football team. We’ll have them work out in the morning, put them on a bus and then send them down to help you out.’”

Players teamed up with members of the Boy Scouts of America to work on mowing, weed eating and painting the fences at the center’s baseball field, while others worked to paint the bathrooms, recreation center and basketball floor inside the arena.

“It’s stuff that’s much needed but expensive to do,” said Sutton. “So it doesn’t often get done.”

It didn’t seem much like work as the sound of laughter was the only thing louder than the lawn care machinery.

“They’re all laughing and having a good time,” said assistant director of football operations Quincy Wilson, a former Mountaineer running back. “They adjust. They had a workout (Friday) morning and a long bus ride, but once they got here, all of that went away. They just became kids again.”

“It’s fun,” said sophomore linebacker Isaiah Bruce. “I get to meet a lot of these Boy Scouts, and I’m able to give back. It’s a good experience. When I was younger, I never had an experience about this. It’s awesome.”

The hardest part may have been keeping up with all the Boy Scouts, determined to get the job done.

“One kid ran off,” joked Cook, a senior safety. “But I found him and taught him something.”

Aside from providing some assistance, the Mountaineer players benefited from exploring different parts of the Mountain State.

“I was talking to a few of them that said they don’t make it out of Morgantown much,” said Sutton. “It’s nice for them to see other parts of West Virginia, because their fans are just as big down here.”

“This plays off of what we’ve been teaching these guys since January — what it means to come from this state and what it means to be a Mountaineer,” said Wilson, a Weirton native. “Coming to Summersville pretty much signifies much of what West Virginia is — small, tight-knit communities. For these guys to be here doing stuff they wouldn’t normally do is awesome.”

Even if the trip was a little difficult for some.

“Most of these guys aren’t used to these back roads, and a couple of them looked like they were getting a little sick,” laughed junior wide receiver Connor Arlia, also a Weirton native. “But how can you not love it?

“Obviously, everybody is proud of their state, but I tell them all that there’s no place like West Virginia. Like John Denver said, it’s almost Heaven.”

For Bruce, it was his first taste of any part of the state other than Morgantown.

“This was definitely the first, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be the last,” said the Jacksonville, Fla., product. “We’ve made a big emphasis on learning what West Virginia is all about and who we’re playing for. We understand that now, and this was really good for all of us.”

“It’s definitely some motivation,” agreed Garrison, who hails from Pearland, Texas. “As a Texas boy, I never knew much about West Virginia. But now I know more about the state and who I’m playing for. It’s a boost for us and helps us play a lot harder.”

And learning a few new skills can never hurt.

“It looks easy,” said Garrison as he grabbed a paint brush and readied to go to work. “So hopefully it’s as easy as it looks.”

— E-mail: chuffman@ and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 041914 old white Old White to celebrate 100 years

    The home of The Greenbrier Classic will be having a birthday today, and the celebration should be something special.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mullens, Pineville to meet in Anderson Memorial

    After many years away from the sideline, legendary Mullens High School coach Don Nuckols is returning to the game of basketball.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 D'Antoni Lakers mum on D’Antoni

    Mike D’Antoni was still the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach when he left their training complex to spend the Easter weekend out of town with his family.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 gibby WVU trying to find speed on defense

    Tony Gibson took over as West Virginia’s new defensive coordinator over the winter with the goal of trying not to do too much to rock the boat. As the fourth coach to hold that spot in as many years, the Van native — in his second stint as a Mountaineer assistant — knew that his players needed some stability.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814 Sisler Diamond Classic continues today

    Fayetteville pitcher Kaitlyn Sisler pitched five innings of shutout softball as the Pirates beat Oak Hill 10-0 Wednesday in the Diamond Classic in Fayetteville.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni’s Lakers future still unclear

    With the Los Angeles Lakers season officially over — the Lakers beat the Spurs 113-100 Wednesday but finished 27-55 overall, the most losses in the club’s history and the franchise’s worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1957-58 — Marshall fans will be keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Tinsel Town over the coming days.

    April 17, 2014

  • Turnbull’s tenure dominates WVU wrestling history

    Did Oliver Luck really do a thorough job in deeply evaluating Craig Turnbull’s 36-year career as wrestling coach before firing him?

    April 17, 2014

  • WVU’s top football prospects working out for NFL teams

    As we draw ever closer to the NFL Draft, the prospect workouts for teams are picking up steam for former Mountaineers. Both running back Charles Sims and defensive end Will Clarke have a busy road ahead.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041814 james monroe Crusaders make history in loss to James Monroe

    The first season for Greater Beckley Christian’s baseball team has been met with growing pains — to say the least.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041714 millard Kickoff time set for WVU-Alabama

    West Virginia football fans can now start counting down to the exact minute, instead of just the day.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo