Welcome to the refreshed Smoking Musket! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [http://www.smokingmusket.com/fanposts] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Hello. My name is John Lowe and I have been writing for the Smoking Musket for about 9 months (since August).
Like many West Virginia fans, I was born in to being a Mountaineer.
My dad went to WVU three times. Class of 1982 for petroleum engineering, class of 1988 for civil engineering, and class of 2000 for law. His sister also went to Morgantown for college and graduated with a degree in pharmacy in the early-mid 70s.
Right now I’m pursuing a bachelor’s in journalism (Class of 2019) and my sister is working toward a degree in Spanish. Both at WVU.
Pretty normal stuff for most Mountaineer fans.
My fandom comes with the added wrinkle of being a townie. When I say townie, I mean EXTREME TOWNIE. I was born in 1995 at Mon General Hospital and have basically lived here ever since (My dad was transferred to Richmond, VA from 2000-02, but other than that...).
I grew up in a Morgantown without the University or Suncrest Town Centers. There was only one Wal-Mart and it was in the Mountaineer Mall up off of 857. St. Francis High School was still behind the Burger King on Patterson Drive. University High School was on Price Street, not in the middle of nowhere. Mountaineer Field was MOUNTAINEER FIELD, not Milan Puskar Stadium, and seating stretched all the way around the field without those suites in the north endzone.
The first WVU game that I remember was in 1998. We were playing Navy. I remember nothing from the game itself, but I just remember that we went.
After we came back from Richmond in 2002 (this is when I really start remembering stuff), we didn’t go to a whole lot of WVU football or basketball games. Either my dad couldn’t because of his schedule or we couldn’t afford tickets for all four of us. So, most of my entertainment came from MHS games. I was going to watch the Mohigans back when they won three state titles in four years. Plus, there was still that weird old track around the Pony Lewis Field...
The first game I really remember watching live was the 2005 Thanksgiving Backyard Brawl. I was wearing five layers. It was FREEZING out. Pat White ran all over Pitt, mainly because there was nothing stopping WVU that season and the Panthers were just awful.
I kept watching games with my dad. We’d try to go to a game every year just the two of us. Those included the 2006 Cincinnati game, the 2007 East Carolina game (and another game that year I don’t want to mention), the 2008 Marshall game, and the 2009 Liberty game and we went to the 2010 Gator Bowl as a family.
By this time, I was getting into middle school and I was beginning to figure out that I wanted to be a sports reporter. I’d start to keep nerdy sports statistics on my computer and keep track of every single college football and basketball game (something I still do to this day).
During this time, I also played some middle school football. At South Middle, I played on the same team as another well-known WVU townie, Nathan Adrian.
He probably doesn’t remember me, but I have interviewed him for the Associated Press after a few WVU games the past couple of years. He was our quarterback during the one season I played on the team and helped lead us to an 8-0 record and a Mon County Championship.
When I was at Morgantown High, I was in the marching band. The band isn’t really a group of nerdy outcasts at MHS like it is at most other high schools across America. About 1 in every 5 MHS students were in the band because of all the awesome trips we took. In 2013, I got to be in the Rose Bowl Parade. I bring this up because another thing the band gets to do is sell those seat backs at WVU games. So during high school, I would go to every game to sell those things just so I could watch every Mountaineer game. My dad and I got to endure the 2011 Marshall game this way.
RIP Stuart Scott
Once every season during and just after high school, one of my best friends Derek would help get me into a game without having to work to do it. His dad is the maintenance supervisor of all of the university’s athletic facilities, so it was always easy. He would always get me into the big games too. These included the 2011 LSU game, the 2012 Baylor game, the 2013 Texas game, and the 2014 TCU game.
At the TCU game, I almost got trampled by a Horned Frog running back (I’m the guy in the West Virginia hoodie):
In 2014, I took a year off between high school and college, but I did get to enjoy some of the really great stuff that happened that season. Including the Baylor game, College Gameday, and the Liberty Bowl
FUNNY SIDE STORY
During my freshman year, I still got to be a fan for most of the football season (my first game in the press box was the 2015 Iowa State game).
One of the first people I met at orientation was Chris Jackson (give him a follow @CJacksonWVU, one of the best at breaking WVU news). Over time, we have become good friends and have worked together at the DA. He has become relatively emotionless during games that he’s working (If you’re press, you have to be. I struggle to contain my fandom, just ask anyone who works at the DA or U92), but he wasn’t during our freshman year. He wrote a piece for the DA predicting that Jovon Durante would be the next great wide receiver out for WVU before he even played a snap.
Chris would find out that he was right during the Georgia Southern game.
When Durante caught that long TD pass, Chris LOST HIS MIND. He kept was jumping up and down in the student section screaming “I WAS RIGHT!”
(Maybe Jovon should deliver a little more on that prediction this season. Am I right?)
Since Thanksgiving weekend 2015, I’ve been doing most of my cheering in my head. I have been working media ever since.
I know this was a lot of jumbled thoughts, but the university and Mountaineer football and basketball have been part of the fabric of my life since birth.
As a townie, WVU has had an affect on every single day of my life. That’s why I’m a fan.
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