Tricking the brain

It’s hard times for a lot of folks at the moment and I’m not just talking about the sports world.

Basically five months into this COVID-19 pandemic, national health official experts have been warning of the dreaded possible second wave.

I’m not going to get into the stats of things, but if someone wants to talk numbers I’d suggest getting with Eastern High School head football coach Pat Newland.

I’ve had a few conversations with coach Newland and was able to make it out to the Eagles’ media day this week.

As fun and impressive as he is to talk with on the phone, it’s even better to talk football, life and general shop with him in person.

We’re pretty close to the same age and hold what appears to be a plethora of similar beliefs in terms of what it means to be an American.

Eastern, which is coming off a playoff season a year ago, sports 33 kids and two-thirds of the roster are upperclassmen.

I could see their energy and excitement for the potential upcoming campaign, but everyone who is a student-athlete goes to sleep at night knowing when they wake up they might not have a sport to come back to.

Whether it’s Wirt County or Gilmer County or wherever my football tab duties have taken me, I get the same feeling in my gut and head.

Everyone is doing their part to “stay safe” knowing in the back of their brain the stark reality which could come any day now.

Mentally, at least for me, it’s been a taxing situation since spring.

I try not to let it get to me at all, but some days are way more difficult than others.

It’s not always easy to trick the brain into thinking what one wants it to think and avoid dwelling on negative thoughts.

Coach Newland understands that fully and it’s even tougher for him with two sons on the team.

Of course, like most coaches, Newland pretty much considers the entire squad a large group of sons and extended family.

For the most part, he’s been coaching these players since they were old enough to play flag football. Like myself and everyone else, he wants a season for all the kids, who wholeheartedly deserve one.

The problem is, which he pointed out to me, the 99% in essence are at the mercy of the health experts, who will advise government and state athletic organizations what to do.

∫ Parkersburg High School gridiron boss Mike Byus has some exciting news he wants to share with the public.

This coming Tuesday, former longtime college coach and motivational speaker Mike Springston is going to talk with the team and then hang around at practice from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

“He was an assistant coach on staff at WVU Tech a couple of my years back in the ’80s and we got reconnected in like 1991,” said Byus, who noted Springston wrote a book “I Surrender” that he’s willing to autograph. “He’s in the process of finishing up three books. This is the first one he’s published.

“He grew up in town and remembers watching the Big Reds practice football when he was a little tyke. A lot of people might want to meet him or know him and may want to come by. Some of the community might want to come watch practice that evening. He’ll be around if they want to meet him or get a signed copy of his book.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com


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