MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Thanksgiving is a time for food, family and football. It is a time to reflect on what one is thankful for in life.
Things aren’t different for the West Virginia University football team, except on Thursday while others are with their family members, members of the Mountaineers’ football team will be celebrating the holiday with their teammates.
“College football players don’t get vacations like that,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “If you’re playing football around Thanksgiving you should be fortunate to be able to do so. Thanksgiving is about your football family. If you’re playing during Thanksgiving and you’re playing during Christmas, then you’re in a good place.”
But don’t feel sorry for them just yet.
Players and coaches will spend the holiday together like they have done for the past five years.
“We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday with our football family, which typically involves a lot of the coaches and the coaches’ families and all of that stuff,” Holgorsen said. “We do that, we’ve done it the same way for the last five years.”
For WVU that bond is special in its own way. It is a brotherhood not distinguished by blood or race.
“These guys are my family, so that’s my family away from my family,” redshirt senior safety Jarrod Harper said. “Everyone wishes they were around their family, parents and stuff, but Thanksgiving it’s all about football. Even growing up there were always games on, always watching games, and now we get to live that experience that we had when we were little kids.”
These are the moments that these young men will never forget.
“Coach has explained to us that we are going to look back on these times and we’re going to really cherish them,” redshirt senior offensive linemen Adam Pankey said. “We don’t have a lot of responsibilities besides football and our focus is going to be on that. We all appreciate each other. In the end it’s a family around here. So we like the extra time we get with each other.”
The chemistry between this Mountaineers’ team is deeper than that of year’s past. They truly believe they are brothers.
As the WVU players and coaches celebrate the holiday, they will continue to put Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma in the rearview mirror. After all, one game doesn’t define an entire season.
“One game doesn’t define this team,” Pankey said. “We fought through adversity all year and we’re going to continue to fight. We just got a lot of confidence in our team that we’re going to bounce back and get it back rolling.”