Morgantown, W.VA. – Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown is coming close to his one and a half year mark in Morgantown and with that the head coach continues to impress fans and players from past teams. From day one, Brown has been an advocate of the idea of past players having a good and open relationship with the current players and staff.
This is not something that recent alumni were used to.
Brown’s day one advocations have been all about blending alumni Mountaineers with current Mountaineers, wanting to make sure that just because you weren’t suiting up in Old Gold and Blue on Saturdays, you knew you could always come home to Morgantown. A little over a year later, Brown seems to have succeeded at making that well-known.
COVID-19 has changed the landscape of not just American society, but everyone’s daily lives all around the world. This time of extreme uncertainty, social distancing and more solitude than most college students, let alone student-athletes, would ever assume they would experience is a time where bonds are tested and bonds are forged.
Brown has found a way to do just that with the help of social media, and internet conference platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime.
At the beginning of April, Brown helped to officiate a Mountaineer football Zoom call with roughly 60 former Mountaineer players, a moment that fans across the country would have loved to have witnessed.
On the Zoom, Brown said “I appreciate our former players, the guys who created that tradition. They’ve been giving of their time. You’ve seen several of our former players, out NFL players who have joined the position groups on Zoom. We had an alumni Zoom meeting — I think Pat McAfee talked about that — where I kind of welcomed them and had a couple comments and then I got out of the way and got off. I thought was their sacred time, but what I understand was that went on about an hour-and-a-half, two hours and they had a really good time. I appreciate those guys really paying it forward.”
The all-star Zoom was the first of a series Zoom calls that the West Virginia football program has implemented during the shelter in place orders across the country. A quick scroll through Brown’s Twitter account will show that many of these Mountaineers from that initial Zoom call have jumped on position-specific Zoom calls with the current Mountaineer roster. Some of these Mountaineer pro’s were Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones, Nick Kwiatkowski, and Anthony Becht to name a few.
While there is much uncertainty about what our world’s ‘new normal’ will look like going forward, what is certain is that bonds both new and old are being forged during this time and Coach Brown is doing his part to build and reinforce those bonds. Brown’s Zoom calls, FaceTime check-ins and phone calls to staff, current players, former players and recruits show that while not being physically in-person, there is a way to keep, maintain and strengthen the bonds of life as a Mountaineer.