The definition of a dream is an idea or vision that is created in your imagination and that is not real. For Nathan Adrian, his dream to go from Mountaineer fan to player became a reality.
Adrian grew up attending Mountaineer games starting in Elementary school. Watching, cheering, and like most young fans, day dreaming of playing for the Mountaineers.
Before Adrian’s Junior year at Morgantown High, his dream came true. WVU offered him a scholarship, which made him the first Morgantown High player to receive one since 1956.
“It was a really good feeling, I was the first one to do it in a very long time, it was a gold mine. When it finally became true, it was a really rewarding feeling.”
The dream had become reality but with that came a tough early road when Adrian arrived at WVU. While freshman year brought promise with eighteen starts, solid minutes, and thirty-nine 3-point field goals tied sixth most in WVU history for a freshman, his sophomore campaign was a different story. Starting just five games, averaging 2.8 points per game while shooting 31% from the field and 18% from three. Fans came out in numbers on social media, boo birds were flying at the Coliseum, however, Adrian found motivation in all of this.
“You really can’t take the lows to hard, there’s highs and lows in sports all the time. You got be self-motivated but you got to use outside stuff like that as well.”
What fans and even coaches didn’t know was that Adrian was suffering through several injuries, including a cyst on his wrist, making it hard for the player to even lift his shooting hand backward. Along with tendinitis, the cyst in the joint was impairing movement. Adrian kept it quiet so he could play, in his mind there was no sitting out.
“You really can’t just sit out games or practice just because of an injury. So, you know I’ve always played through them, I always will.”
After playing through the injuries, Adrian went to gym to work even harder on foot work, ball handling, and defensive technique. Although there were times Adrian wasn’t enjoying playing the game, there was no quit, and no stopping him from playing at his dream school.
In January of his junior year, he started in place of Esa Ahmad and never looked back. Fast forward to this year, his senior year, where fans were wearing his signature head bands, holding up signs, and cheering on the Morgantown native. Adrian had truly overcome adversity in more than one way, becoming the glue of this team. Looking back, he finds peace in the madness.
“It’s good, I’ve always done little things that go unnoticed. But, this year I had to score more points, had more rebounds, and such. I just try to play my role, and be the best that I can be for my team, win games, and we won a lot of them.”
Adrian’s hair even started to get a little star power. So much, the hair has two of its own Twitter pages with over 300 followers. Hair that almost seemed like it had powers, pushing Adrian to super hero like basketball powers.
“Yeah I saw it. I go through these long awkward stages of growing it out, it’s my last year of college so I never cut it.”
Losing in the Sweet 16 was not the way the Mountaineer basketball squad and Nate Adrian wanted the season to end. WVU finished 11th in the last USA Today/Coaches Poll for the third consecutive year but Adrian was disappointed that he did not deliver a national championship to the great state of West Virginia.
“I’ve been a fan forever, we have some of the most passionate fans in the world. They’ve never gotten to experience a national championship in basketball or football. You’re going to regret it a little bit, that’s what people in this state deserve. I wanted to be the guy do it, but came up short.”
Even though the Mountaineers did not win a national championship, there is no denying that Nathan Adrian is the true definition of a Mountaineer. He overcame adversity through hard work, perseverance, and dedication to his school and state. It was an honor to speak to Nate about his career at WVU and I wish him luck in his future endeavors.