My name, for the purposes of all my internet life, is JP Fanshawe. I am honored to join the staff of The Smoking Musket as a contributor. I've led a varied life - one that has seen me study the arts and philosophy while working full-time as a sportswriter. After that I became proficient, simultaneously, in bartending and filmmaking, only to wind up working in a prosperous industrial business in the heart of West Virginia. Life is strange, that way. But because of those decisions, I have the family I have.
I was born here. Raised here. Left for 13 years before returning, and in all that time, Mountaineer athletics have been a constant in my life. As I have read the posts and comments of so many that frequent this site, it seems we all have a shared history in that regard. I remember once splitting a $50 phone charge with a fellow Mountaineer in North Carolina so that we could both listen to a West Virginia-Maryland game. We even split the cost of a speakerphone. We got drunk as the Terrapins beat the Mountaineers, 24-13. I gave him the phone to keep.
My father became a season-ticket holder in 1980, because he thought Don Nehlen was a great hire. I was 10. Those tickets my Dad had purchased were mostly for customers of his, but each year throughout my young life, I got to go to one game a year. It was usually a game where the demand for tickets was not high. My first game was a win over Richmond. My second, if my memory serves, was a rout of Colorado State where Willie Drewery took a kickoff return for a touchdown, and my love of the team was probably born in that one crowd-crazy burst of noise.
A lot of my positivity toward the program probably comes from my formative years - I saw us win. A lot. And when we lost, I usually didn't see it. I only heard it on the radio, and somehow Jack Fleming made it seem very Damn Yankees. There was always next week. Does anyone else recall what a big deal it was to be on television, then? Or how important making a bowl game was? Now that both of those goals seem so easily attainable, perhaps I am prone to being too kind, but as a lot of you know, I try to take the high road, to be positive, perhaps even sometimes when I shouldn't. But, as a former sportswriter, I have always remembered something Don Nehlen said to me once in a corridor of the Brushfork Armory while on the winter caravan: "It's hard for fans who have been watching for years to remember sometimes...that all these kids are just that....kids."
As a contributor, you can expect from me an even-keeled approach. I have a great admiration for research. I like it when a question occurs to me that will require me to go find out the answer. And I always approach those pet projects not wanting the answer to shake out a certain way, only to find out how it does. I have been accused of being a homer by some regular visitors of TSM, but I want the same residual glory from the WVU programs that we all do - it is awesome to feel like you are part of something elite, even if you are only a fan of the people actually making the achievement.
As I have aged (I am 40) I have noticed that I don't approach the games the same way I did in say, my 20's. I don't follow the Mountaineers quite as fervently, which is to say, I no longer break things during games, because I don't want to see my sons model that behavior, and I try not to let a bad performance ruin any more than the day it happens! Again, I am honored, and happy, to join the list of people that contribute to this site. I have a lot of respect for each of you, and I like that my writings will be in the company of yours.