The Kinder Garden - A Beautiful Day

As Mountaineer fans, we've all had our share of bad days. Frustrating games, questionable calls and the general feeling that WVU is perpetually on the short end of the luck scale all combine to give West Virginia supporters a sense of fatalism on occasion.

That's why days such as Wednesday, February 4th, 2004, should be savored by Gold and Blue fans for a long time. From the opening of football's national letter of intent day to the final buzzer of the men's basketball game with Seton Hall, there was good news all the way around.

The day started off with the focus on the Puskar Center, where eyes and ears anxiously awaited the warbling tone and waspish rasp of the fax machine. Lo and behold, by the time the letters of intent stopped spilling out, West Virginia not only had all twenty of their "public knowledge" verbal commitments in the fold, but also a pair of bonus pickups in wide receiver Mookie Tate and quarterback Patrick White.

The news of the clean sweep, as well as the third straight year with an unexpected commitment for Rich Rodriguez' program, combined to set pulses pumping and fists rising to the sky across Mountaineer Nation. Our message boards were humming so busily you could feel the intensity flowing from keyboards of WVU fans worldwide.

No sooner had the first articles been written and the analyses begun, it was time to head to the Coliseum for the men's basketball game with Seton Hall. At the same time, the women's squad was traveling to cellar-dwelling Providence in an attempt to extend their winning streak to seven.

The women's game was a classic trap – a road contest with an inferior foe before a tough season-ending swing. And West Virginia struggled a bit early, which made for some nervous scoreboard watching in the Coliseum. However, Mike Carey's troops mounted a second half tornado of scoring and defense that ended in a 35-point Mountaineer blowout, keeping the ladies in a tie for second place in the Big East Conference.

Meanwhile, the action was building in intensity at the Coliseum, where a closely contested game combined with officials from the American Clown College served to incite the smallish, but vocal crowd to a high level of energy. True to the disposition described in the opening paragraph of this column, many people saw a letdown coming, but John Beilein's troops weathered a late Seton Hall run to bring home a big victory for the home team.

Two big wins, plus a successful football signing day made it an enjoyable 14 hours in the University City. As I told more than one person as Wednesday drew to a close, "It's a great day to be a Mountaineer!"

* * *

The next morning, however, I found out it hadn't been a great day for every WVU fan. One of the stalwarts of our message boards, John Olesky, lost his wife, who had been suffering from a terminal illness, earilier that day. John and his wife, Monia, are longtime Mountaineer fans who supported West Virginia through thick and thin, and passed that love of WVU on to their family members.

As I thought about that, I first felt upset that Monia wasn't around to enjoy what was, for most WVU fans, a day that they'll treasure for a while. Life's not fair, I thought, that bad things like that have to happen, much less on a day that could have provided at least a few moments of pleasure for John and Monia.

However, upon further reflection, maybe it was appropriate that Monia moved on to a higher state of being on this day. If it had to happen, could there have been a better day for her to move on? Godspeed, Monia, and my heartfelt condolences to all of your family. You and yours exemplify what it means to be Mountaineers.

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